By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has sounded alarm bells over the harvest and consumption of shellfish from Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur. It hoisted a red tide warning.
The Bureau, on its website, posted Shellfish Bulletin 12 in April 6 that included Lianga Bay as one of the areas positive for the paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.
According to the bulletin, “all types of shellfish and Acetes Sp. or alamang gathered from the area [are] not safe for human consumption.”
BFAR said fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.
Andy Ordoña, BFAR information officer-designate for Region 13, said the Bureau has sent out the shellfish warning to local governments in the region.
The red tide, according to Ordoña, “is the same” with what BFAR warned about in December 2017.
But many people in Surigao del Sur and Caraga were unaware about the red tide.
Ivy Doguiles of Erve’s Seafood Fastfood in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur, said she did not have an idea that there was a red tide warning.
“No one informed us that a red tide warning has been up since April 6 and so, we have been serving our customers seafood like shellfish,” Doguiles said.
Last year, she said, they immediately stopped serving seafood after they were told of the advisory.
Doguiles said she was worried that the red ted would adversely affect fisherfolk against especially those harvesting shellfish from the Lianga Bay.
Red tide results from marine nutrient levels of near-shore water that reach sufficient levels to trigger a bloom of reddish dinoflagellates that harbor toxins. These then get lodged in marine animals and seafood like bi-valve seashells and crustaceans, and get passed up the food chain. The water becomes tinged with the reddish algae, hence, “red tide.”
According to a report by Water Environment Partnership in Asia (Wepa), the rapid increase in population, urbanization and industrialization count as factors that reduce the quality of Philippine waters.
The discharge of domestic and industrial wastewater and agriculture runoff have caused extensive pollution of the coastal waters. The effluent is in the form of raw sewage, detergents, fertilizers, heavy metals, chemical products, oil and solid waste.
The report stated that, “the extent of water pollution in the Philippine Bays can be gleaned from the frequent occurrence of red tide since it first came to the attention in 1983.
“Red tide usually occurs when high organic loading from rivers drain into bays resulting in harmful algal blooms. Records from 1983 to 2001, a total of 42 toxic outbreaks have resulted in a total of 2,107 paralytic shellfish poisoning cases with 117 deaths.”