Execs ready calamity funds for red tide
ILOILO CITY—Three towns in Aklan province have been declared under a state of calamity due to red tide contamination.
The Aklan provincial board issued the declaration on Wednesday covering the towns of Altavas, Batan and New Washington upon the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC). The declaration will enable the release of calamity funds for those whose livelihoods have been affected.
Galo Ibardolaza, PDRRMC executive officer, said the declaration was based on the advisory of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that the three towns were among those covered by a red tide alert.
In Davao City, the BFAR in Southern Mindanao said it had not yet lifted the ban on the gathering of shellfish and other bottom-feeder species at the Balite Bay in Davao Oriental province, which it issued earlier this year, due to the presence of red tide there.
The red tide phenomenon occurs when algae rapidly multiplies producing toxins that can be fatal to humans and other wildlife.
Shellfish toxicity level in the affected areas is above the regulatory limit of 60 microgram saxitoxin (ugSTXeg)/100 grams of shellfish meat.
The harvesting and selling of shellfish are banned in the areas covered by the alert.
Fish from areas affected by red tide can be consumed but must be fresh and washed thoroughly. The internal organs including gills and intestines should also be removed before cooking and eating, according to the BFAR.
The three Aklan towns which are part of the Tinagong Dagat cove have been under a red tide alert since Nov. 21.
The ban has affected the livelihood of residents mostly dependent on fishing and shell-gathering.
In New Washington alone, officials estimate losses due to the ban to reach at least P15 million, according to Ibardolaza.
He said the towns have been asked to submit a comprehensive damage assessment to the provincial board which would be used as basis for assistance from the provincial government.
Fatma Idris, BFAR Southern Mindanao regional director, said local authorities had also reminded coastal communities near Balite Bay to refrain from harvesting and consuming shellfish and such bottom-feeders as small shrimps, which are commonly used in making “bagoong” or shrimp paste.
She said consuming such marine products from Balite Bay could result in paralytic poisoning, caused by high concentration of algae and planktons in the area. Some of these organisms produce toxins that can harm humans.
“It can cause paralysis or even death if consumed,” Idris said.
Idris said the red tide phenomenon in Balite Bay was first noted early this year.
The sea or fresh water surface became brownish instead of blue-green, which suggested that the area could be teeming with microorganism activity.
Idris said red tide was the “result of some environment factors such as siltation and sudden change between cold and warm weather.”
She said other marine resources such as fish were safe for eating but these should be thoroughly cleaned. Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas, and Dennis Jay Santos, Inquirer Mindanao
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