Bangus ‘safe for consumption’ amid red tide

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


BALINGASAG town mayor Alexis Quina has reiterated his assurance that the locally produced milkfish or bangaus is safe for human consumption contrary to rumors circulating in Northern Mindanao recently.

“The thing speaks for itself,” he said.

Quina said the presence of the media and officials from the agriculture department’s Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources in Northern Mindanao region (BFAR-10) is proof enough that people can still eat freshly harvested bangus without fearing the presence of the harmful algal bloom (HAB) or ‘red tide’ in some of the region’s waters.

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“You can judge for yourself whether or not the bangus here is safe to be eaten or not,” Quina told reporters during a visit to the Balingasag Mariculture Park Tuesday morning, April 15.

Earlier that day, Quina said fish growers even harvested bangus and served a portion of the day’s catch to visiting journalists.

Among the bangus dishes that were served to the media were grilled, ‘paksiw’ (cooked in vinegar and oil), and kinilaw (raw flesh mixed with vinegar and spices).

When report started to circulate that HAB has resulted to massive fish kill in some parts of the region, Quina said his first reaction was to eat bangus to verify it himself if it is indeed toxic to humans.

But BFAR-10 regional director Visa Dimerin said that although there is still the presence of patches of HAB in some coastal areas of the region, there is no danger in eating bangus or other kinds of fish as long as they are fresh and are thoroughly cleaned and cooked.

“As long as it is fresh it can be eaten. There’s nothing to worry,” Dimerin said.

The fish don’t have to be freshly caught, but as long as they're kept refrigerated, then there’s no danger at all.

“HAB is not toxic, it is not poisonous and not harmful to human beings except if you have eaten a rancid fish, then you will have a problem,” she added.

Meanwhile, Maxim Xerxes Cabio, Misamis Oriental provincial fishery officer, said of the 19,507 hectares declared as the Balingasag Mariculture Park, only 19 hectares have been utilized as bangus farms where fish cages are located.

The park, Cabio said, is being managed by the local government unit of Balingasag through the executive management council (EMC) headed by Quina.

Cabio said local residents have benefited from the establishment of the bangus farms since they have been hired as caretakers responsible for cleaning the fish cages and feeding the cultured fish.

He added small-time fisherfolks were also given assistance by BFAR-10 through distribution of fish cages.

Cabio said the relationship between the small-time growers and wealthy investors is advantageous to both since most times the fisherfolks’ produce are bought as well to meet the growing demand of the cultured bangus in the market.

He said there was even a time that the bangus growers ventured into the export business but it did not prosper since buyers abroad have standards that local investors could not yet comply with.

But Quina said the LGU of Balingasag and BFAR-10 recently entered a joint enterprise and put up a bangus processing plant in Barangay Waterfall, with some P10 million in investments.

Under the deal, the local government donated the land while BFAR-10 had invested in the construction of the building and provision of facilities.

Quina said the processing plant, when fully operational next month, will be producing various products.

At present, the town’s women’s federation, composed mostly of housewives, is operating the plant and is producing deboned bangus.

“The plant was intended to complement the bangus production in our town,” Quina said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 16, 2014.

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