Fishery agency warns shellfish from areas with ‘red tide

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The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Thursday warned that shellfish collected at coastal waters in various parts of the country still tested positive for a paralytic or “red tide” poison that is beyond the regulatory limit.

The shellfish in the coastal waters of the Inner Malampaya Sound in Taytay, Palawan; Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon; Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol; Tambobo Bay in Siaton, Negros Oriental; Calubian town and Cancato Bay in Tacloban City in Leyte; Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; and Murcielagos Bay (Sapang Dalaga and Baliangao) and Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental were among those that tested positive for the red tide toxin.

The BFAR and concerned local government units (LGUs) also raised the alarm on the consumption of shellfish found to contain red tide toxin that is beyond the regulatory limit in Taguines Lagoon in Mahinog, Camiguin; Balite Bay in Mati City, Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and the coastal waters of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur.

“All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or “alamang” gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption,” the bureau published in its bulletin.

However, it stated that fish, squid, shrimps, and crabs are safe for human consumption, provided they are fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs, such as gills and intestines, are removed before cooking.

Red tide is a term used to describe a phenomenon where the water is discolored by high algal biomass or the concentration of algae.

This syndrome can be life-threatening and often shows itself within two hours of consumption.

In non-lethal cases, these conditions may appear in a few days. In severe instances, individuals may experience respiratory arrest within 24 hours of consumption.

Meanwhile, the BFAR, in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), noted that government assets and the public would share the responsibility in reducing illegal, undocumented, unreported (IUU) fishing.

The bureau also said it is developing a threat assessment tool and fishing index to systemize its monitoring activities.

“Our strong resolve to prevent and put an end to IUU fishing in Philippine waters will not waiver, especially now that we are gaining momentum technology-wise,” BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona said in a statement.

He said with the use of science and data, they are in the process of developing an IUU Fishing Index and Threat Assessment Tool, which will be adopted in the 12 fisheries management areas.

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