BUTUAN CITY - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) has issued a warning and a ban on the harvest and consumption of shellfish coming from Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur after water from the bay’s coastal area was found positive of the red tide toxin.
Benesita P. Rojas, officer-in-change, Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Officer of the province of Surigao del Sur, said the warning came on December 8, 2017 from the BFAR national office.
“Under the Shellfish Bulletin No. 41 series of 2017, Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur has been found positive for red tide toxin based on the latest laboratory results of BFAR. The red tide warning pointed out that all types of shellfish and Acetes specie or commonly known as alamang gathered from the area are not safe for human consumption,” Rojas said.
Rojas said the towns of Lianga and Barobo have been placed on the warning list but other towns in the vicinity may also be added to the list of affected towns.
The waters of Lianga Bay covers several towns such as the towns of San Agustin and Marihatag. Adjacent waters of Hinatuan Bay and Bislig Bay had been found negative for the toxins, but Rojas said residents are advised to ask about where the shellfish were gathered before buying them.
“Let me make it clear that even if fish, squid, shrimps and crabs are safe for eating as long as it is properly cooked, they should be fresh and washed thoroughly and the internal organs such as gills and intestines should be properly removed before cooking. I would also advice everyone not to eat anything raw while the warning is still in effect,” added Rojas.
Ivy S. Doguiles, owner of the Erve’s Seafood Fastfood in Lianga, expressed her concern as the red tide warning would affect not only the daily consumption of the town but the recovering tourism industry.
“After the warning was given out, our local fisherfolks, market vendors and establishments such as our eatery stopped serving shellfish. We started serving more meat even if several of our customers who travelled far were asking for shellfish but we explained to them the present situation of the red tide. Unfortunately this will effect our fisherfolks who rely on their daily catch of shellfish for a living,” Doguiles said.
Doguiles said tthe number of tourists had drastically declined and the local tourism industry was just beginning to recover from the ripple effects of the Marawi crisis and the subsequent martial law declaration.
Lianga Bay covers an area were several popular tourist destinations are located such as the Britania group of island in the town of San Agustin.
Red tides are caused by an explosive growth and accumulation of certain microscopic algae, predominantly dinoflagellates, in coastal waters.
Some species of dinoflagellates produce toxins that are among the most potent known to man. These harmful algae blooms, or HABs for short, pose a serious and recurring threat to human health, wildlife, marine ecosystems, fisheries, coastal aesthetics and the economy.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 16, 2017.