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Philippines struggles under mountain of dead fish

/ 12:55 PM May 30, 2011

[jwplayer mediaid=”10561″ buffelength=”10″]MANILA, Philippines— Several lakeside towns in the Philippines on Monday were struggling to cope with mountains of rotting fish that were killed by a sudden drop in water temperatures at the weekend.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said more than 750 tonnes of fish had died since Friday in Taal Lake near Manila, hitting several towns whose economies are heavily reliant on the fishing industry.

Scientists said the onset of the rainy season led to a sharp drop in water temperatures that depleted oxygen levels in the lake.


But the BFAR did not issue warnings about the fish kill to Talisay fishermen, Talisay Batangas Mayor Zenaida Mendoza told Radyo Inquirer in an interview Monday.

“We did not receive any warning from the BFAR. If we did, we would have done something to pre-empt the damage,” Mendoza said. She said over 375 metric tons of fish were killed in Taal lake last Friday.

“Fishermen are hauling them manually using their boats, and bringing them ashore. But the rotting smell is overpowering and could pose a health risk.”

Estimating the damage to have reached over P33 million, Mendoza said that the fish killed were a “huge loss” as they were ready to be caught and sold.

“I hope people will not be afraid to buy ‘tilapia’ from (Talisay, Batangas),” said Mendoza. She explained that ‘tilapias’ were bred in separate areas and “only the ‘bangus’ (milk fish) were among the fish killed.”

Decomposing fish were placed into a mixture of soil and lime to dispel the foul odor and sanitation and health officials were working flat out to dispose of the dead fish.

Many, however, remained exposed to the open air due to lack of suitable sites to bury the hundreds of tonnes of carcasses.

She added that an emergency meeting was scheduled to tackle issues surrounding the incident, including the disposal of the dead fish.


“Because of the amount of fish affected, this will take a long time before we can recover,” said Mendoza.

Volcanologists said the incident was not related to recent activity of Taal Volcano, which lies in the middle of the lake and has been rumbling for over a month and is among the deadliest of the country’s 23 active volcanoes.

For the interview, listen to Radyo Inquirer DZIQ 990AM.

Danica Hermogenes,

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TAGS: Environmental Issues, Fishing industry, Natural Resources
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