Water sampling in fish kill area yields nitrite ammonia

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014


NITRITE ammonia was found in the three water sampling that the Regional Health Fish Laboratory of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Northern Mindanao conducted on Monday after a fish kill occurred in the river of Barangay Agusan on January 11.

Rey Hojas, lab analyst of BFAR, said the river water contained high amounts of nitrite ammonia.

He added that the chemicals can bring stress to the fishes that could have caused the fish kill.

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“It is possible that the nitrite ammonia came from agricultural runoff,” said Hojas adding the chemical was drained into the river.

He furthered that possibly the nitrite ammonia came from pesticides and fertilizers in the hinterlands due to the rain water flushed to the river.

Hojas said the murky water could have also contributed to the fish kill.

Hojas said any fish in contaminated water should not be eaten.

Agusan village chief Andrew Melizza said some residents reported fish kills in the hinterland communities in the barangay.

“In the hinterland communities like Balubal, fish kills occurred,” said Melizza.

The river in Barangay Agusan roots from “Mt. Kitanglad along the Agusan Canyon, barangays Dahilayan and Camp Philips in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Edwin Dael, city local environment and natural resources office (Clenro) chief, said that in the hinterland areas that include a town in Bukidnon province banana plantations, pineapple plantations, pig and poultry farms are operating.

Meanwhile, Celestino Rullan, a veterinarian who used to work in the Department of Agriculture for 29 years, said the investigation regarding the causes should also include the animals around the river.

He added that pesticide analytical methods should be conducted to identify the exact chemicals that brought the onslaught to marine life in the river.

Rullan’s residence is just along the river in Barangay Agusan.

Worst fish kill

Hojas said the residents reported that around 175 kilograms of fish of different variety were gathered during the fish kill.

However, Dael claimed tons of fish were found lifeless when some of the Clenro staff arrived in the area after receiving the report from Melizza.

“This is the worst fish kill recorded in the history of the river in Barangay Agusan,” Dael said.

He added the deaths of fishes lasted up to two days.

At press time, Melizza, said fishes in the river are still dying.

Livelihood

“Money is not enough to pay for the damage caused in our river,” said Melizza.

Dael added it would take two years or more before connecting rivers can supply marine life to the river in barangay Agusan.

He added a certain type of shrimp that releases its offspring in the mouth of the river could now be gone after the fish kill.

“The chain of offspring was cutoff due to the phenomenon,” said Dael.

Pigok, an endangered variety of fish that can only be found in Mindanao, did not escape the onslaught of the contaminated water in the river.

Melizza added a lot of people are relying on the river for livelihood and they are the ones who are gravely affected by it.

Probe deeply

Dael vowed his office would further investigate the fish kill.

“This phenomenon happened on a periodic basis before, but no concrete solutions were made,” said Dael.

He furthered that a committee would be established to investigate and come up with conclusive evidence to cease the periodic fish kill.

Dael said aside from nitrite ammonia, it is possible that other substances could have been involved considering the massive amount of dead fish.

In Barangay Tablon, a village adjacent to barangay Agusan, some 10 to 15 kilograms of small fish of different varieties were found floating lifeless just meters away from the shoreline in December last year. The fish kill took place near an oil company.

Melizza added that the same phenomenon happened in the river in the long past.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 14, 2014.

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