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Water at Bato Lake reaches critical level; fish kill feared

By: - Correspondent / @mbjaucianINQ
/ 12:10 AM May 22, 2015

BATO, Camarines Sur—With the extreme heat gripping the country, water level at the Bato Lake here has been dropping fast to its critical level.

From last month’s 3 meters, the water level is now 1.75 meters, Alejandro Pili Jr., agriculture technician for fisheries at the municipal agriculture office, told the Inquirer, citing the results of the latest sampling test.

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Bato, the seventh largest freshwater lake in the country, has an average depth of 8 meters and is home to the “sinarapan,” the world’s smallest commercial fish species. The 2,810-ha lake is also host to some 18,000 fish cages that supply tilapia to most of the Bicol region.

“We can say that the dropping of water level is greatly attributed to hot weather condition and the very evident lack of rain in the province for several weeks now,” Pili said.

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Lakewater temperature has also been affected, he said, saying data showing that it had reached 31 degrees Celsius—which is “very far” from normal average of 28 degrees.

If this condition continues, a fish kill could occur, Pili said.

The technician advised fishermen and fish cage operators to harvest the tilapia once the fish reached marketable size.

Pili recalled that in May 2014, fish cage operators lost about

P2 million when a fish kill hit the Bato Lake. Some 2,000 fishermen are operating in the lake.

A tilapia vendor in the town, Lucy Casili, 50, said the hot weather had started affecting fish sales. “The fish don’t grow as big as they used to. The result is poor sale and making money is very hard,” she said.

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