THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the country will have enough supply of fish especially in the upcoming observance of Holy Week despite the oil spill in the waters off Oriental Mindoro due to a sunken oil tanker.
In a Laging Handa public briefing, BFAR Chief Information Officer Nazario Briguera said the country’s state of fish supply is stable despite the expected limited supply in areas near the oil spill.
"Generally speaking po, magiging sapat po ang suplay ng ating isda pagdating po ng Semana Santa. Magkaroon man ito ng kaunting pagsipa sa presyo because of the demand, pero manageable po ito dahil nga sa ngayon ay maganda po ang state ng ating supply,” he said.
(Generally speaking, the supply of our fish will be sufficient during the Holy Week. Even if there is a slight increase in price due to demand, it will be manageable because our supply is currently in good condition.)
Traditionally, Filipinos refrain from eating poultry meat during Lent.
Briguera said the country is losing P5 million each day and that fishing in the oil spill affected areas are banned.
He said 19,000 fishermen in nine municipalities in Oriental Mindoro were affected by the oil spill, which was brought about by the sunken MT Princess Empress that was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel.
He said the incident will also have a long-term effect on the reproduction and growth of fish in the area.
"Sa kapaligiran, malaki po ang impact nito kasi mga critical marine habitats 'yung tinamaan po ng oil spill at definitely may negatibong impact po ito ating mga isda lalo na po doon sa mga fish larvae, itlog, doon sa mga bakawanan," he said.
This has a significant impact on our environment because the areas affected by the oil spill are critical marine habitats, and it definitely has a negative impact on our fish, especially on fish larvae, eggs and on the mangrove forests.
"Kapag inabot din itong mga coral reefs ay definitely maaapektuhan din po ang reproduksyon ng mga isda doon sa naturang lugar. Nakakalungkot ito dahil may long term effect po ito kasi talaga ang oil spill po ay nakakaapekto maging sa paglaki ng isda ay may epekto ito,” he added.
(If the oil spill also reaches the coral reefs, it will definitely affect the reproduction of fish in that area. This is sad because it has long-term effects since the oil spill also affects the growth of fish.)
However, Briguera said the government is looking for ways to help the affected fishermen through the conduct of skills and livelihood training.
He said the agency has allotted P4.2 million to help them find temporary means of livelihood such as fish processing in which raw materials will come from the unaffected areas.
Briguera said they will also launch Kadiwa Oplan Isda to help them deliver their goods to nearby markets.
The National Government has already tapped foreign experts to help contain the oil spill, which has already reached the shores of Isla Verde near Batangas City, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.
In an advisory issued by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) on Sunday, it said that the oil spill trajectories show a northward shift with Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro "possibly receiving most of the oil from March 20 to 22."
It said the westward currents along the coast of northern Mindoro toward the Verde Island Passage are forecast to be more pronounced for this period.
“The Amihan winds, which contained most of the oil to the coasts of Nauhan and Pola in the previous weeks, are now more variable, allowing the oil to spread northwards," UP-MSI's latest advisory read.
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 151,463 individuals or 32,661 families were affected in 131 barangays in Oriental Mindoro, Palawan and Antique by the massive oil spill.
The government is providing them with food packs while programs such as cash-for-work were implemented to sustain their daily needs. (SunStar Philippines)