Philippines Government tackles fish kill

Losses from the fish kill in the towns of Anda and Bolinao in the Philippines are being mitigated by the continuous demolition of fish pens and cages in Pangasinan province, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Farmers of milkfish, or bangus, are taking their harvest to Dagupan City in an effort to minimise their losses. This has brought prices down to PHP30 (US$0.69) to PHP50 per kilogramme.

In Taal Lake, 700 tonnes of tilapia were lost.

Losses could have been "tremendous," said Nestor Domenden, BFAR-Region 1, if the fish structures in the coastal waters of the towns Bolinao and Anda were not being torn down. The ongoing monitoring of water conditions and the forced harvest done by some operators are also helping the situation, reported The Philippine Star.

He said BFAR has paid for the demolition of the fish pens and cages, which is meant to let rivers and other water bodies "breathe again."

Task Force Kalikasan was created by Governor Amado Espino Jr to work with officials of coastal areas for the dismantling of the fish structures.

Domenden said 30 to 50 tonnes of bangus have been affected by the fish kill in Anda since the weekend and 15 to 20 tonnes in Bolinao town since Monday, with estimated total losses of PHP4 million (US$92,200).

He noted that the 65 tonnes lost make up just .06 per cent of the total annual aquaculture output in Region 1 and will thus not influence bangus supply.

Dr Westly Rosario, BFAR center chief in Dagupan City, said water sampling this week showed 1.5 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the affected areas, whereas the fish need five to six ppm to survive.

It is believed that overstocking of fish in cages caused the fish kill in Taal and Pangasinan, reported Manila Bulletin.

"It was found out that some fish cages had been overstocked and the depth of the fish cage increased from the prescribed 5 meters to 15 metres. These wrong practices exacerbated the fish kills," said newly appointed BFAR National Director Asis Perez.

Fishers are being told to wait until oxygen levels rise before resuming their operations.

FIS (www.fis.com)

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