MANILA, Philippines — A fisherfolk’s federation on Friday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to comprehensively study the situation first before warning consumers against eating fish from Taal Lake, citing the livelihoods of fishermen who could be affected.
This came after the DOH on Tuesday advised the public to refrain from buying and eating fish originating from the lake days after Taal Volcano’s main crater erupted steam and ash.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), in a statement, urged the government to cushion Taal-based fishers from the effects of such a statement, arguing that “the fisherfolk sector is considered the most vulnerable sector of the natural calamity.”
“Upon issuance of totally banning fish products from Taal Lake, the government should be ready, as social protection to compensate the losses of livelihood of the sector,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said that they expected fish kill in the lake due to an influx in sulfur content following the eruption as this could lead to the destruction of a projected 6,000 fish cages, to go with an estimated production loss of 15,033 metric tons.
But the Department of Agriculture only ordered the BFAR to conduct its water quality tests on Wednesday, a day after the advisory was already issued.
Pamalakaya argued that this statement was made prematurely, as the advisory was issued while the Department of Agriculture was still in the process of determining the water quality and sulfur content of the lake.
For the militant group, a thorough study should have been made first before coming to this decision as the livelihoods of numerous fisherfolk were on the line.
They said that even a mere government advisory could negatively impact both the fishermen and the poor consumers.
“A concrete study will decisively encourage and educate the affected fisherfolk and poor consumers in nearby area,” Hicap said.
“Consequently, if it is proven, appropriate agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry should be on guard against speculative raising of prices and selling of contaminated fish products,” said Hicap.
“Halimbawa lang ang mga mismong kasapi ng chapter namin sa probinsya na nagtatrabaho sa mga fish cages. Ngayon ay wala na silang kabuhayan, at umaasa na lamang sa mga relief. Kaya, dapat handa ang gubyerno sa mga magiging hakbang nito, tulad ng pag-ban sa mga fish products mula sa Taal Lake,” Hicap added. (Stacy Ang/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)