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BFAR: Maintain fishing prohibition in regions impacted by oil disasters, assist fishermen

In some regions of Oriental Mindoro affected by the oil spill, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Tuesday suggested a permanent stoppage of fishing activities along with continued support for fishermen.

The BFAR stated in a statement that preliminary water and fish sample tests had been completed in Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Bansud, Gloria, Roxas, Mansalay, Bongabong, and Bulalacao.

“For the sake of public safety, the DA (Department of Agriculture)-BFAR proposes a permanent stop of fishing operations in the aforementioned locales in Oriental Mindoro. The concerned LGUs (local government units) are advised by the agency to respect this scientific guideline, it was stated.

Initial sampling by the BFAR revealed the presence of grease and oil in the water samples.

According to preliminary findings, water samples had petroleum product traces, specifically oil and grease, equal to about 5 mg/L. According to Administrative Order 2016-08 from the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, the value is within the permitted range of 3 mg/L to 5 mg/L.

In the fish samples, the DA-BFAR also discovered low-level pollutants or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Fish meat may eventually get contaminated with PAH, which is toxic to people and other living things, the statement continued.

The level is calculated using samples collected between March 3 and March 14.

Despite the suspension of fishing operations, the BFAR promised ongoing assistance to the roughly 19,000 impacted fishermen.

“The DA-BFAR has already set aside an initial budget of PHP6.4 million for livelihood and relief assistance to help fishermen and their families cope with the loss of income due to fishing bans,” the statement stated.

A budget for the rehabilitation programs is also being developed, in addition to the distribution of food packets.

Rest assured that the DA-BFAR has been collaborating with relevant local government units (LGUs) and national government agencies to safeguard public safety and allay the worries of the more than 19,000 impacted fishermen, it continued.

Prior to now, the DA-BFAR donated 10,000 cans of food, 5,000 bags of noodles, and 1,000 25-kg sacks of rice to the Mimaropa regional office in Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan with the intention of helping about 5,000 people.

Despite this, the BFAR stated that it must continually assess the food safety of seafood because the preliminary data is “not yet conclusive.”

This is because the BFAR will keep monitoring the issue, especially now that the oil spill has affected additional waterbodies in adjacent provinces.

The BFAR stated that “further sampling and analyses are being conducted to establish time-series results on the effect of the oil spill on fish regarding food safety, taking into account the magnitude of the oil spill which has reached neighboring areas like Caluya, Antique, and some municipalities of Palawan.

Since the oil spill’s spread, fishing has also been prohibited in Caluya, Antique.

The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off the shore of Naujan town, causing oil to flow into the waters of Oriental Mindoro and its neighboring provinces.

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