Red tide warning raised in 2 Surigao del Sur towns
BUTUAN CITY—The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the Caraga region has issued a warning against the gathering, selling and eating of shellfish along the coastal area of Hinatuan and Lianga towns of Surigao del Sur where the red tide toxin has been detected.
Visa-Tan Dimerin, regional director of BFAR Caraga, said a laboratory examination by BFAR on water samples from the village of Baculin, Hinatuan town detected the presence of Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum, a toxic microorganism that creates paralytic shellfish poison.
Dimerin said the BFAR issued the warning while still awaiting results of confirmatory tests on shellfish samples from the National Fisheries Laboratory Division (NFLD) of BFAR.
Employees of Hinatuan town’s agriculture office and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) also issued the red tide warning last Aug. 21 to the town’s coastal villages.
BFAR warned the public against the gathering, selling and eating all types of shellfish and shrimps, locally known as alamang or hipon, from the coastal waters of Hinatuan to avoid poisoning.
On its official website, BFAR also identified Lianga Bay as among the areas where toxins exceeded safe levels.
The BFAR bulletin said all types of shellfish and alamang collected in the bay would not be safe for consumption.
“Fish, crabs and squids can be eaten but all entrails must be removed and washed thoroughly before cooking,” Dimerin added.
Dr. Leona Victoria Nortega, officer-in-charge of the regional fisheries laboratory of BFAR Caraga, said the current red tide phenomenon bore similarities to the outbreak in December 2018 because these were caused by the same organism.
“For a year now, we have been constantly monitoring the area,” she said.
“We have been conducting water sampling every week, sending the results to our national office,” she added.
According to Nortega, the organism behind the current red tide episode was found in the waters of Barobo. Since the town was part of Lianga Bay, “the warning has been issued for the entire area,” she said.
She said that even with the red tide warning in place in 2019, her office continued to receive reports of people selling and eating shellfish.
She said preventing poisoning was the primary concern of local governments during red tide episodes.
Red tide develops when the nutrients of waters near the shore reach levels sufficient to trigger reddish dinoflagellates—a single-cell organism usually called algae—that harbors toxins.
These toxins get lodged in marine animals and seafood like bivalve seashells and crustaceans and enter the food chain. This results in waters getting tinged with the reddish algae, earning the name red tide.
BFAR Caraga said that though the warning covered only the towns of Hinatuan and Lianga, it also advised the public in the vicinity to be vigilant and cautious.
Edited by TSB
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