Red tide alert raised over Masbate waters
By Connie Destura LEGAZPI CITY -- Activities like harvesting, selling, buying and eating of shellfish species from the coastal waters of Mandaon and Placer towns in Masbate are still forbidden by authorities due to red tide. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office based in Pili, Camarines Sur, on Thursday last week said a ban on shellfishes like tahong (green mussel), clams, oysters Acetes sp. or alamang is in effect in the areas affected by red toxins. The latest red tide bulletin issued by the BFAR central office in Quezon City shellfish bulletin No. 27 said “laboratory results on collected samples from coastal waters of Mandaon and Placer, Masbate, found positive paralytic shellfish poison beyond the regulatory limit.” “All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. from the said areas in Masbate are not safe for human consumptions -- we already advised the local governments of Mandaon and Placer on the enforcement of the ban to avoid the toxic and deadly effects of this contamination to consumers of marine food products particularly shellfish,” BFAR Regional Director Dennis Del Socorro said in a phone interview here Thursday. Del Socorro emphasized that for a span of 12 days, four bodies of water recorded occurrence of the red tide phenomenon from the Aug. 3 shellfish bulletin on redtide covering only six areas. It may be linked to inclement weather condition which could have triggered the red tide causing organisms to be active and the possibility of upwelling brought by strong waves and current that likewise affected the organisms’ dormancy, Del Socorro said. The regional director added that no casualty caused by shellfish poisoning in red tide-affected Mandaon and Placer municipalities in Masbate has been recorded. He cautioned though, for those engaged in the shellfish industry, particularly scallops, to still remain to be cautious in harvesting and processing and to utilize only the adductor muscle or ‘tinga’ as that is the only part not affected by red tide toxin. For the municipalities, they should be vigilant in issuing auxiliary invoice for fisheries products in red tide affected areas and those fishes that were caught illegally, he said. Other sea products from the area like fishes, squids and crustaceans, however, are safe for human consumption provided they are cleaned thoroughly by removing internal organs and cooked well before serving, Del Socorro clarified. Placer town chief of police PSI Rey Anthony Villanueva said that all necessary measures in relation to the shellfish ban advised by BFAR are in place in the locality. “We visited all coastal barangays and disseminated the advisory by the BFAR, we are also conducting check points and our seaborne patrol (bantay-dagat) is strictly enforcing the ban on harvesting shellfish products from our municipal waters,” Villanueva said. The police chief pointed out that red tide in Placer is not a new occurrence as this has been experienced on and off in the his town. “We are still waiting for the BFAR 3rd laboratory test since we need three consecutive negative results to clear us from the red-tide alert,” Villanueva added. Red tide is a marine phenomenon in which water is stained with a red, brown, or yellowish color because of the temporary abundance of “blooms” which is also called phytoplankton, or planktonic algae, which are single-celled organisms that move using a tail-like structure called a flagellum. The bulletin also declared under red tide infestations the municipal waters of Iron-irong Bay, Catbalogan, Villaruel and Maqueda Bays in Western Samar; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Inner Malampaya Sound, Taytay; Puerto Princesa Bay, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan; coastal waters of Tambobo Bay, Siaton in Negros Oriental; and Balite Bay, Mati in Davao Oriental; coastal waters of Gigantes Island, Carles in Iloilo.