Picture of Joeven C. Calasagsag
by Joeven C. Calasagsag - Friday, 3 June 2011, 11:16 AM
Department of Agriculture
Elliptical Rd., Diliman, Quezon City

Is the fish safe to consume?

Yes, provided the fish is still on its fresh state condition which should exhibit the following characteristics:

1. Eyes are clear and glossy and not dull and sunken
2. Gills are bright red and not brownish to gray
3. Odor is fresh and not stale or putrid
4. Flesh is firm to touch and not soft; color is not bleached
5. Scales are intact and not easily removed
All spoiled fish, regardless to its species, are not safe to eat and therefore must be discarded.

Why is there a fish kill?

Fish kill results from natural and/or man-made causes. These may include reduced oxygen in the waters which may be due to factors such as drought, algal bloom, overpopulation or a sustained increase in water temperature and pollution caused by man.

In lakes, a natural phenomenon known as water overturn or upwelling occurs as a result of weather or climate changes – from long dry spells to sudden strong rains, among others.

In Taal Lake the causes of fish are as follows:

1. Natural – there is lack of dissolved oxygen in the water due to natural upwelling lakes

2. Man-made – Dissolved oxygen in the water is depleted due to violations of the BFAR’s prescribed Code of Practice for Aquaculture and local government ordinances on proper fish cage management. It was found out that some fish cages had been overstocked and the depths of the fish cage were increased from the prescribed 5 meters to 15 meters. These wrong practices exacerbated the fish kills.

In Pangasinan (Anda and Bolinao)

The fish kill in the coastal waters of Bolinao and Anda are due to man-made causes – improper fish cage management and overcrowding of fish in the cages.

For close water system such as lakes, the prescribed stocking density is 20 fish/cubic meter. For open waters, stocking density could go up to 30 fish per cubic meter or more depending on water circulation among others.

How much fish in these areas were affected by fish kill?

As of today, June 1, 2011 the reported losses are as follows:

Taal Lake: 700 metric tons

Anda and Bolinao: 50 to 70 metric tons

What is the impact of the fish kill in the fish supply in Metro Manila ?

The impact of these losses to our total production is only 0.015%. Our target fish production is 5.36 million metric tons.

In the affected areas, apart from a decrease in farm gate price by almost 50% because of the glut; the supply of fish in Metro Manila will not be affected as large volumes of fish supply also comes from Region 6 and other adjacent areas.

What interventions are being undertaken by BFAR to affected fish farmers?

1. Advisory were given to fish cage operators in affected areas to harvest their fish stocks immediately and bring them to nearby government fish ports. BFAR will shoulder the cost of cold storage.

2. BFAR will also provide fish fry and/or fingerlings to affected fish farmers, specially the marginalized ones. A set of criteria has been set out to determine those who would be qualified for the said assistance.

What can the people do to help prevent the occurrence of fish kill?

For Fish Cage Operators:

To abide by the guidelines set by the BFAR on good practices in aquaculture which has been incorporated in the city and municipal ordinances issued by their respective local governments.

For LGUs:

There is a need to implement local fisheries ordinances and regularly monitor compliance by the fish farmers in their respective jurisdiction.

For regular citizen:

Ordinary citizens could help in prevent the occurrence of fish kills by helping the government prevent man-made factors like throwing garbage especially plastic products in waterways. Everyone has a stake in keeping the environment clean so that our waters, both inland (rivers and lakes) and coastal waters will be suitable and safe for our aquatic life.

Residents residing near Taal Lake and in coastal waters where fish cage operations exist could also report improper practices observed.

As BFAR Director Atty. Asis Perez said in his message to fisherfolks, be vigilant in protecting our heritage. Remember, we do not own these resources. We only borrowed them from our children and their future children. # # #

Source: DA-BFAR
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