Lake Buhi fish kill brings P178M in loss
NAGA CITY—The amount of losses from a fish kill that struck Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur province after Typhoon “Karen” slammed into the Bicol region has reached P178 million, reports from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.
More than 50 km from this city, the 1,600-hectare Lake Buhi in Buhi town is the biggest inland body of water in Bicol where tilapia fish culture has been extensive since the 1980s. It is also the home of sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis), a goby species considered to be the smallest commercial fish in the world.
Nonie Enolva, BFAR spokesperson, said the agency’s “conservative estimate” showed that each fish cage operator lost at least P1 million as a result of the fish kill.
Enolva said the fish kill, which started on Oct. 15, happened because of “compromised dissolved oxygen level,” when lake water was disturbed and its level increased due to strong wind and heavy rain whipped up by the typhoon.
“[Lake condition] caused extreme stress to cultured fish,” she said.
Beethoven Nachor, Buhi municipal administrator, said a local government team would assess the environmental impact of the fish kill, account for the number of families affected and prepare a mitigation plan.
Nachor said the team would conduct a cleanup drive since some fish cage operators either left tilapia rotting in cages or dumped them in the lake.
He said 16 percent of Lake Buhi had been occupied by fish cages, which is 6 percent more than the size allowed for aquaculture development.
History of losses
Nachor said the price of tilapia has gone down to as low as P5 per kg from a high of P120 per kg after the fish kill.
Dennis del Socorro, BFAR Bicol regional director, asked the Buhi government to enforce a local law that sets the size of the lake to be devoted to aquaculture to just 10 percent to prevent another fish kill.
Del Socorro also recommended the suspension of re-stocking of cages until the BFAR declares lake water to be favorable for fish culture again.
He said the local government must inventory fish cage operators and set limits on the number of cages they operate.