THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Eastern Visayas region warned the public on Monday against consuming all kinds of shellfish sourced from Matarinao Bay after they were found to be positive of red tide.

BFAR regional director Juan Albaladejo Jr. said the recurrence of red tide in Matarinao Bay was observed last week after laboratory tests were conducted by BFAR and local government units surrounding the area.

“Shellfish samples collected from Matarinao Bay tested positive for traces of paralytic poison, more commonly known as red tide. Toxicity level has reached beyond regulatory limit of 60 ugSTXeg/100g of shellfish meat,” Albaladejo said.

Red tide in the area was declared last March 16, 2010 and remained until May last year.

“BFAR and the concerned local government units surrounding Matarinao Bay are continuously monitoring the area to safeguard public health and protect the shellfish industry,” Albaladejo said.

“Although the occurrence of red tide in the area appears to be entirely natural, the algal blooms may be a result of systematic increase of sea temperature and then followed by heavy rains,” Albaladejo added.

“All types of shellfish and alamang (krill) from the sea area of Salcedo, Quinapondan, Hernani, and General MacArthur are not safe for human consumption,” Albaladejo said.

“Fish, squid, and crab are safe to eat provided that these are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking. Fish should not be eaten raw such as kinilaw,” Albaladejo added.

Among the symptoms of red tide poisoning are facial numbness, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, abdominal cramps, and weakness or paralysis of one of more extremities.

The symptoms show less than 24 hours after eating red tide contaminated shellfish.

Meanwhile, Albaladejo said the remaining coastal waters of Eastern Visayas such as Ormoc Bay, Biliran waters, Camotes Sea that is facing Leyte, San Pedro Bay, Villareal Bay, Maqueda Bay, Irong-irong Bay, Cancabato Bay, Sogod Bay, Carigara Bay, and Calbayog waters are free from red tide organisms.

Red tide is a common name for algal bloom caused by some species. These are often associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen and other harmful effects. (Reyan L. Arinto/Leyte Samar Daily Express)