Dead tilapia found in Laguna de Bay
SAN PEDRO, Laguna—The agriculture office in Calamba, Laguna province, on Friday ordered fish pen operators in their coastal area to bury the tons of dead tilapia plucked out from Laguna de Bay.
This was while they were waiting for the results of the water sampling tests by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) at the onset of a fishkill that hit parts of the lake. Results of the water test are expected to come out next week.
Calamba City agriculture officer Severino Caraan said that as of Friday, about 10 metric tons of dead tilapia were recovered from the Laguna Lake, particularly in the coastal villages of Masili and Sucol.
“The fish pen operators said the fishkill started last week but our office only received their reports on Monday,” Caraan said.
He said the fishkill has affected more than 20 fish pen operators, who reported losing around 60 kilos of tilapia daily in the past two weeks, equivalent to about P250,000 based on the farmgate price of P25 per kilo.
LLDA information officer Elsie Mistica said fishkills were also reported in Jala-jala, Rizal, and Pangil, Laguna, last week.
Lake officials initially suspected oxygen depletion due to sudden weather changes in which the surface water is pushed down and the bottom water surfaces.
The same had happened in Taal Lake last year killing more than 700 metric tons of milkfish.
“However, we still have to wait for the water test results to conclude this,” Mistica said.
BFAR regional Inland Fisheries Reasearch Station chief Leah Villanueva, on the other hand, dispelled reports that the fishkill was linked to the proliferation of the knife fish in the lake.
The BFAR earlier confirmed the presence of the knife fish, an ornamental but carnivorous fish competing with the endemic tilapia and milkfish in the lake.
Fish cage operators in Taal Lake said there would be enough tilapia supply in the market, although they were worried about a massive “fish scare” which may also affect their produce from Batangas province.
“People may not distinguish which came from Laguna de Bay and which from Taal Lake,” said Mario Balazon of Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance Inc. To be on the safe side, he said, “one has to check the gills (they have to be red) to see that the fish is not spoiled.”
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