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BFAR raises red tide alert in Sorsogon Bay

By Connie Calipay and Samuel Toledo

The gathering, selling, and transport of all types of shellfish from the Sorsogon Bay and the municipal waters of Mandaon and Milagros in Masbate have been banned after samples taken from these bodies of water turned positive for the red tide-causing planktons called pyrodinium bahamense, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bicol announced on Monday, Dec. 7.

BFAR Bicol spokesperson Nonie Enolva, in an interview, said their office issued a local red tide warning advisory because the Nov. 27 red tide bulletin by their central office did not include the Sorsogon Bay and Masbate yet on the list of bodies of water that are positive for red tide organisms.

“Based on the latest sampling from Sorsogon Bay, it was found out that the said area is now positive for red tide. We earnestly advise fishers not to gather and sell shellfishes such as green mussel (tahong), carpet shell (baduy), pen shell (baloko), blood cockle (piyong and takal), and other shellfishes (surusalapi, kagot, punaw, etc.) in the area,” BFAR said in its advisory.

“The sampling that we conducted last week confirmed that red tide causing planktons are present in Sorsogon Bay and Milagros and Mandaon waters. Though we are still waiting for the confirmatory result on Monday or Tuesday, we decided to issue already this local red tide advisory. We do not want to take chances,” Enolva said.

She said resurfacing of red tide-causing planktons is suspected to have been triggered by the presence of agricultural waste and other waste sources, and the remobilization of the sea beds in these areas due to strong currents spawned by the typhoons that hit Bicol in the past weeks.

The BFAr official explained that a red tide phenomenon occurs when there is a harmful algal bloom in a particular body of water.

“These wastes serve as nutrients for the red tide causing planktons that result to the blooming off harmful algae,” Enolva added.

She said that their office received unconfirmed reports of possible red tide poisoning in Milagros and Mandaon that resulted in the death of a resident.

“Some residents in Milagros, Masbate had suffered food poisoning and led to the eventual demise of one. As of posting, we are still waiting for the official report from our provincial fisheries office,” Enolva said.

Due to this report, she said they included the municipal waters of Milagros and Mandaon in the red tide warning.

Enolva said intake of shellfish contaminated with red tide could result in numbness of the face particularly around the mouth, dizziness, pricking pain, weakness of the body, faster heart rate, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. (PNA)


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