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The Department of Agriculture is preparing assistance for Taal fishermen and Batangas farmers.

Taal Lake fishermen, Batangas farmers, and their families received assurances from Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on Tuesday that the government, via the DA, is prepared to assist them if the Taal Volcano erupts again.

We are prepared to offer technical support and to distribute agri-fishery and livestock interventions in regions that may be affected,” says the OneDA family in Calabarzon, headed by the Regional Field Office (RFO) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) “Dar shared his thoughts.

His statement said that the agency has developed urgent response plans and tactics for fisherfolk and agricultural families who live along the shoreline, as well as for neighboring barangays who were also impacted by the flooding.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued an Alert Level 3 on July 1 for Taal Volcano Island, as well as shoreline barangays and municipalities in the surrounding area (Phivolcs).

The Director of the Agency (DA) hopes that there will not be a second major explosion like the one that occurred on January 12 of last year. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the 2020 incident resulted in the displacement of thousands of people and the recording of PHP3.4 billion in damages in infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and livestock in Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite provinces.

There will be no increase in the price of seafood.

A fish kill at Talisay, Batangas, according to BFAR 4A regional director Sammy Malvas, resulted in the loss of an estimated volume of 109 metric tons (MT) of bangus and tilapia, valued at PHP8.999 million.

However, Malvas said that “eating of fish from Taal Lake is healthy, but it must be restricted to those that are fresh and captured alive.” Fish must also be carefully cleaned, with all internal organs removed, then cooked according to the manufacturer’s instructions “…..

Taal Lake fish pen owners and fishermen who work in the lake have informed the public that their tilapia is safe for eating despite the volcano’s present state of unrest.

A phreatic explosion or a pabusngi-busngi explosion in the middle of the night is what caused the tilapia to die, according to the fisherman. A lot of trash has been accumulating on the island, and sulfur dioxide is being released into the atmosphere, which is creating havoc. When it comes to the isda, the people are on their best behavior. The tilapia is not affected by the phreatic explosion, which is why it is not included in this study. The debris fell solely in the immediate vicinity of the island, while sulfur dioxide only had an effect on vegetation. β€œFurthermore, fish do not eat volcanic ash),” stated Nestor Natanauan, head of the Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance Inc. (TLLAI), in a press release.

Natanauan said that fishermen and fish growers are aware of the risks posed by the potential eruption of the Taal volcano. So feeding is only done in the mornings, after which the employees promptly return to the island’s continental shores.

Unscrupulous elements are prevented from taking fish because of the presence of the Coast Guard in the region, which he admitted.

He further reassured the audience that Taal fishermen only collect and sell fresh and live tilapia, which he described as “fresh and alive.”

He claims that the daily fish output from the 6,000 cages owned by TLLAI members is in the range of 200-250 tons. Tilapia fished outside of cages, artisanal tilapia, tawilis, maliputo, biya and other indigenous species are excluded from this category.

Malvas said that the average annual tilapia output from Taal Lake has been about 60,100 MT for the last five years, with 40 percent of that total, or around 24,000 MT, being transported and distributed in Metro Manila.

Dar said that there should be no rise in the price of fish. In the Philippines, the average price of tilapia and bangus has remained constant at PHP120 and PHP160 per kilogram, respectively.

The harvest from Taal Lake and other places is more than adequate, says the captain. We urge that traders refrain from taking advantage of the current circumstances. They should be a part of the solution in terms of ensuring that our customers have enough food at a reasonable price,” he said.

Between now and then, Malvas suggested a PHP282-million budget for urgent help, as well as for rehabilitation and recovery programs.

The funds would be used for a variety of purposes, including social and environmental assessment for water quality monitoring and analysis, food safety assurance to investigate the environmental effects of volcanic ash on water quality and fish populations, information campaign and dissemination, and other activities.

To aid in rehabilitation and recovery, among other things, he said, β€œour strategies will allocate technology and livelihood assistance; installation of a real-time water quality monitoring system; rehabilitation of a production facility in Tanauan, Batangas; technical assistance for fishing communities and fish cage operators in accessing loans, among others.”

Rice, maize and high-value crops (banana, coffee and mango), as well as cattle and poultry, are among the agricultural commodities that may be impacted, in addition to fish.

A report to the DA Secretary said that if there is another eruption, the agricultural supply chain will be disrupted, resulting in the shipment of products such as maize, rice, coffee, banana, fruit tree seedlings, and planting supplies being halted or halted entirely.

Distributing different agricultural interventions for both crops and animals; market interventions such as market logistics and connectivity; and information dissemination (especially farm advisories) are all examples of the immediate support provided by DA-RFO 4A.

β€œWe will continue to watch the activities of Taal, with the hope that it will not erupt in the near future,” said the team. β€œYou can be certain that your government will be there to help you no matter what happens,” Dar added.

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