Bolinao, Anda once more hit by fishkill

June 29, 2010 at 4:20 am Leave a comment

By Yolanda Sotelo

BOLINAO – Once more, this town and neighboring Anda were hit by a massive fishkill that set back them economically by more than P50 million.

The fishery area stinks and the sight of sight of thousands of decomposing bangus (milkfish) and other fishes floating above the murky water, revolting.

It reminds one of year 2002 the bangus industry was wiped out and losses were claimed to be around P400 million. A fish kill of lesser magnitude occurred in 2007 that mostly affected operators in Anda.

Municipal Fishery and Agricultural Council head Florante Garcia of Bolinao said bangus cultured in 65 cages in waters off three villages of Catubig, Culang and Catungi were wiped out.

In Luna, half of the 42 fishpens were also affected, he said.

The scourge started on Sunday morning in Bolinao and spread to Anda town on Monday night, affecting Awag and Siapar villages.

Boatloads of bangus that were forced harvest in the two villages were dumped at the Picocobuan fish port of Bolinao, where the fish are sold at P10 to P30 each kilo.

Westly Rosario, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Dagupan research center chief, said the fishkill was caused by confluence of events which are low dissolved oxygen level which could have been caused by pollution, neap tide (limited water change) and sudden change in water salinity because of rain.

Rosario said that the major cause of the disaster is the low level of dissolved oxygen, brought about by harmful algal bloom, which is caused by too much nutrients in the water.

The uneaten commercial feeds (estimated to be 30 percent of feeds given to the cultured bangus) is what causes the algal bloom.

“In short, the fish kill is caused by mainly by pollution caused by the industry itself,” Rosario said. “It is really the same, oft-repeated cause and effect.”

A caretaker said it takes 2,000 sacks of feeds to produce 20,000 tons of bangus in one cage.
This means that 600 sacks of feeds in that one cage alone is uneaten.

There are around 600 structures in the town so you can just imagine how many tons of uneaten feeds is ultimately dumped into the sea beds causing tremendous pollution , Municipal Planning and Development Officer Brunner Caranza said

But the fishpond and fish pen operators could not care less, it seemed. No matter how much they lose in the almost-regularly occurring calamity, they do not abandon the business from which they earn millions.
“The fishpond operators are earning really big amount of money but they do not care about the host environment,” Caranza said.

“The sludge at the bottom of the sea is so thick already that it would take days to find a body of drown person,” he said.

While there are good operators like Edgar dela Cruz and Jimmy Conde, in general the aquaculture industry is detrimental not only of the environment but also of the small fishermen who used to gather lobster, sea cucumber and other marine products which the place was once very rich of, Caranza said.

Corals are also a thing of the past, he added.

The industry has also turned out to be exploitative of small fishermen who were hired as caretakers.

While operators employ caretakers, “I wonder if they are compensated fairly considering that they have responsibilities 24 hours a day that in some cases, family members including small children have to help out but are not paid at all,” Caranza said.

Caretakers are supposedly given a certain percentage of the sales, but Caranza said if this was true, “why are the operators getting very rich while their caretakers are still very poor?”

It seemed that the residents are so dismayed with the fishery operations that nobody cared to volunteer in cleaning up the sea of the decaying fish this time..

In 2002, hundreds of volunteers trooped to the beaches to remove the dead bangus while the municipal government sent trucks to collect and bury them somewhere in the hills.

Some operators did collect their dead fish for proper disposal, but many did not, leaving them to rot in the sea, unmindful of what ill effects they would bring on the environment and the people’s health.

Caranza asked the BFAR and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to take an active role in the aquaculture industry.

“We hope these agencies will strictly monitor the industry, or even take over its management. I think on their own, the local governments concerned could not have it properly managed,” he said.

Entry filed under: News.

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