Fishkill blamed on factory wastes
DUMAGUETE CITY—Two government agencies are investigating claims linking the fishkill in four coastal villages in Bais City and the town of Manjuyod in Negros Oriental to the operations of two factories in the areas.
The fishkill has brought income loss to at least 200 fishing families in the city and town.
Employees and officials of the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Visayas took separate water samples from the North Bais Bay where the fishkill occurred.
Andres Bojos, BFAR Central Visayas director, said the BFAR people also took samples from the fish found floating to determine what killed these.
Shellfish samples were also taken to check if these, too, were contaminated by toxins, said Bojos.
Eddie Llamedo, DENR Central Visayas spokesperson, said the water samples would be examined to determine the level of fecal matter and coliform and amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.
“We’re trying to look into the possibility of the water discharge of a sugar mill whether their wastewater has been properly treated,” Llamedo said.
Fishermen blamed the fishkill on the wastewater discharge from a sugar mill that operates an ethanol plant in Barangay Tamisu, Bais City.
The fishkill has affected the livelihood of at least 200 fishermen in the coastal barangays of Alangilanan and Dunggoan in Manjuyod and Batugan and Tamisu in Bais.
Bais City is known for its thriving whale and dolphin tour industry in Tañon Strait, which is the largest marine protected area in the country.
Bais Mayor Mercy Teves-Goñi and Manjuyod Mayor Felix Sy are asking DENR and BFAR to determine the cause of the fishkill that had continued since it was first reported on June 20.
They also asked the Silliman University Marine Laboratory in Dumaguete City to help in the investigation.
Goñi said the sugar mill started operating its ethanol plant six months ago despite the absence of required permits like a mayor’s permit and an environmental compliance certificate.
Based on the town’s records, she said the sugar mill is yet in the first stages of complying with the requirements, specifically the mayor’s permit from Goñi’s office.
Fishermen’s groups—Alangilanan United Fisherfolks Association and the Alangilanan Small Fisherfolks Association—also filed separate complaints at the City Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bais City.
They claimed that their daily fish catch had been severely reduced due to the liquid waste allegedly coming from the milling plant and the ethanol plant.
The results of the laboratory tests conducted by the DENR and BFAR would be released in two weeks.
In the meantime, Llamedo advised residents not to eat fish found floating in the waters because these may contain chemicals that are harmful to humans.
Llamedo said businesses, like sugar milling companies, should have a permit to discharge wastewater.
“They just can’t release their wastewater,” he said.
The Clean Water Act provides a fine of P200,000 per day to companies or factories found violating laws against pollution or polluting bodies of water.