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BFAR warns against shellfish from red-tide waters

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) warned over the weekend that red tide is active in Masbate, Sorsogon and Zamboanga del Sur.

Thus, the public should refrain from buying and eating all types of shellfish from these provinces, particularly those harvested from the Juag Lagoon in Matnog and Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon, the coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate, and Dumanguilas Bay in Zamboaga del Sur.

BFAR, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), noted that marine organisms have accumulated high levels of toxin from the microscopic dinoflagellate known to scientists as Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum that causes the red-tide phenomenon.

BFAR director Malcolm Sarmiento Jr. reiterated that harvesting, selling, buying and eating contaminated organisms from the said areas are banned until toxin levels have dropped to the acceptable range.

“Sadly, there is no way for the public to detect red tide-contaminated shellfish, so that the local government involved must seriously impose the ban on shellfish gathering in areas where red-tide blooms are detected by the BFAR,” Sarmiento said.

BFAR noted that the recent spate of illnesses and deaths from red tide poisoning in Albay and nearby provinces could easily be prevented if the ban was strictly enforced and consumers heeded the warnings in bulletins regularly released by the bureau.

Under RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of 1998, local government units must enforce all fishery laws and local ordinances enacted by the city or municipal councils in their respective municipal waters.

Sarmiento said the toxic blooms in certain coastal waters of the country have been recurring for the past 30 years and Sorsogon Bay and Juag Lagoon are among the primary areas under tight watch. Water and shellfish in these areas are sampled weekly and BFAR gives bulletins and advisories twice a month.

He said, however, that fish, squids, shrimps and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that these are fresh and the gills, intestines and other internal organs are removed, and the fish is thoroughly washed before cooking.

According to BFAR, areas free of the toxic red tide are the coastal waters of Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, Navotas, Bulacan and Bataan in Manila Bay, and coastal waters of Alaminos, Anda, Bolinao and Wawa in Bani, Pangasinan and Masinloc Bay in Zambales.

Also red-tide free are the coastal waters of Mandaon in Masbate, Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City, Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay and El Nido in Palawan, Tinagong Dagat in President Roxas and Saspian Bay in Capiz, Irong-Irong, Maqueda and Villareal Bays in Samar.

The waters of Ormoc, San Pedro, Cancabato and Caraigara Bays in Leyte, Biliran Waters in Biliran Province, Hinatuan, Lianga and Bislig Bays in Surigao del Sur, Taguines Lagoon in Camiguin Island, Balite Bay in Davao Oriental, and the coast of Kabasalan in Sibuguey Bay, Zamboanga Sibugay have also been declared safe from red tide by BFAR. (Business Mirror)

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