Fish production improves but corals are dying – BFAR

Marje Pelayo   •   July 10, 2019   •   974

Bleached corals in Coron, Palawan

MANILA, Philippines – Data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported improvements in fish production in the country as compared to the previous years.

In 2018, the country had 4.25 million metric tons of fish which was higher by one percent compared to 2017.

BFAR attributed this positive development to improvements in the country’s aquaculture which increased by three percent from the previous years when fish production was hugely affected by weather disturbances, illegal fishing, water pollution, and stricter implementation of the Fisheries Law.

The disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea contributes 2.34 percent of the country’s total production from provinces in Regions 1, 3, 4A and 4B.

Meanwhile, almost half of the production is contributed by Regions 9, 12 and the Bangsamoro Region, according to BFAR.

Despite this, the Bureau noted that from the 27 thousand hectares of coral areas in the country, only one percent are in good condition.

The agency added that the Philippine government loses P68.5-B every year because of illegal fishing.

Climate change also adds damage to the corals in a phenomenon called coral bleaching.

Sadly, according to BFAR, this phenomenon is expected to persist.

“We will see more coral bleaching. Ibig sabihin yung pagkakamatay ng mga corals dahil tumaas halimbawa yung water temperature o mas na-expose sila ngayon sa sun, (It means the corals are dying because of increasing water temperature as they are more exposed to the heat of the sun),” explained Sammy Malvas, BFAR’s assistant director for admin services.

 Likewise, the agency noted that even the size of fish is now affected.

“Example na lang iyong sardines, maliliit pa naging mature na, (Example sardines, they easily mature but their size remains small), Malvas added.

Doctor Deo Florence Onda of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute said that the West Philippine Sea should all the more be protected because it has a vital role in the region considering that it is the center of biodiversity in the world.

“Isa lang indikasyon noon, kung maraming pumupuntang fishermen doon sa West Philippine Sea, ibig sabihin marami silang napapakinabangan at marami silang nakukuha, (It indicates one thing: More fishermen fish in West Philippines Sea because it is rich in resources and has a lot of fish), Onda said. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

Chinese Embassy slams Hontiveros over reparation claims for damages in West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese Embassy did not take kindly Senator Risa Hontiveros’ claims that China owes the Philippines at least P200-B in reparations for the ecological damage it has caused the West Philippines Sea reef system during the past six years of its reclamation activities.

Hontiveros, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, said such amount could be used to help affected families and improve the country’s healthcare system amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Her claims, she said, was based on a study conducted by the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute.

In response, the Chinese Embassy called such remarks by Hontiveros as ‘ridiculously absurd and irresponsible’ and was made “for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

The Embassy added that “China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea” and so the latter commits “to continue to provide our support and assistance” to the Philippines.

Hontiveros, on the other hand, said: “It is more absurd and irresponsible to see that, indeed, in the middle of a global pandemic, China has continued to aggressively violate Philippine sovereignty in the region.”

Hontiveros added that China cannot claim to be a friendly ‘neighbor across the sea’ when it has continued its land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

“Friends help each other out, not occupy their islands and destroy their reefs,” the lady senator argued.

READ: DFA files two diplomatic protests against China

On Wednesday (April 22), the Philippines filed two diplomatic protest against China – one for its creation of new districts in the disputed territory in the WPS and for its alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, as confirmed by Foreign Affairs Teddy Locsin Jr. MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

BFAR warns of shellfish poisoning, red tide toxins in waters of Palawan, parts of Visayas

Marje Pelayo   •   February 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has raised the alarm over consumption of shellfish and ‘alamang’ from the coastal waters of Palawan and several areas in the Visayas due to high level of red tide toxin.

Based on the latest laboratory results, the level of paralytic shellfish poison is beyond regulatory limit in the coastal waters of the following:

  • Puerto Princesa Bay (Palawan)
  • Puerto Princesa City (Palawan)
  • Dauis (Bohol)
  • Tagbilaran City (Bohol)
  • Irong-irong Bay (Western Samar)
  • Cancato Bay, Tacloban City (Leyte)
  • Lianga Bay (Surigao del Sur)

Meanwhile, high level of red tide toxin is present in the waters of:

  • Carigara Bay (Leyte)
  • San Pedro Bay (Western Samar)

“All types of shellfish and Acetes s. or alamang gathered from the areas stated above are NOT SAFE for human consumption,” the BFAR said in its advisory.

The agency added, however, that fish, squids, shrimps and crabs in the area are safe for human consumption provided that they are “fresh and washed thoroughly, and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.”

Tons of mackerel tuna swim ashore in Romblon

Marje Pelayo   •   January 17, 2020

ROMBLON, Philippines – Tons of mackerel tuna (tulingan) surfaced along the coastline of Barangay Sawang in the town of Romblon on Friday (January 17), prompting cheers of excitement from residents.

According to the uploader of the viral video, they have been observing hundreds of fish swimming near the shoreline since Thursday.

It was not the first time that such a phenomenon happened in the area, though the most recent was many years ago, one resident said.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), meanwhile, said they are still verifying the cause of the incident though the agency explained that fish usually appear near the beach if they find something to feed on.

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