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BFAR continues monitoring of oil spill-affected waters in OrMin

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has been monitoring the situation in affected fishing areas since the oil spill mishap in Oriental Mindoro late February this year

Water and fish samples are regularly collected and tested for presence of oil and grease and harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), respectively, to determine whether fish and other marine organisms are safe for public consumption and  fishing grounds are rasdy to be re-opened.

The move aims to ensure the safety of the consuming public as well as the fisherfolk against harmful fuel in the affected areas. 

During onsite monitoring of sea surface on Clusters 2 (Pola) and 3 (Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud), traces of oil were observed during the sampling.

Meanwhile, water samples collected last April 24 showed that oil and grease remained in affected areas but are still within the standard (< 3.0 mg/L) set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for Class SC waters such as Fishery Water Class and Recreational Water Class that are suited for boating and fishing activities, and fish propagation intended for commercial and sustenance purposes.

PAHs, on the other hand, were no longer detected in most of the fish samples collected last April 17, except for pelagic fish samples from Clusters 3, Cluster 4 (Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, Bulalacao), and 5 (Puerto Galera, Baco, San Teodoro).

These pelagic fish samples still contain minimal levels of less toxic PAHs, but the most toxic ones were no longer detected.

Generally, the recent analyses showed lower PAH levels compared to the previous test results.

In light of the recent analyses and other onsite observations, the DA-BFAR still recommends keeping the fishing ban in Clusters 1 (Calapan, Naujan), 2, and 3 due to the risk of contamination from traces of oil that have yet to be removed from the area.

Meanwhile, the fishing waters in Clusters 4 and 5 were found to be within th acceptable standards for fishing activities.

The DA-BFAR will continue monitoring oil spill-hit areas for a time-series observation, which will be the basis of its recommendations for concerned government agencies and local government offices.

To help municipal fisherfolk affected by the imposition of fishing bans, the DA-BFAR, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), has recommended alternative fishing grounds, to include the municipal waters of Paluan, Abra de Ilog, San Jose, and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro; Boac and Gasan in Marinduque; and Concepcion in Romblon.

The DA-BFAR has assured that it will provide fisherfolk with fuel subsidies as additional assistance.

Moreover, the DA-BFAR is eyeing to provide over P117.86 million worth of emergency and relief assistance, early recovery efforts, and mid-to-long term recovery aid to oil spill-hit areas, of which P4.4 million was already spent for post-harvest training for various fisherfolk associations and cooperatives and over P1.5 million was utilized for food assistance to more than 5,000 affected fisherfolk in MIMAROPA.

Millions-worth of funds was also allocated for the ongoing grant and capacity building efforts of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats with marine engines to affected fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro.

Likewise, the Bureau has deployed monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) vessels, as well as PPE sets and other materials for clean-up activities.

Supplementary interventions are in the pipeline, including the grant of additional FRP boats, fish aggregating devices, aquaculture feed mill projects, bangus fry, tilapia fingerlings, and fish cages to areas affected by the oil spill, DA-BFAR said. (GATS/PIA MIMAROPA)/ With report from DA-BFAR)

About the Author

Gene Ace Sapit

Regional Editor

Region 4B

Ace is the Regional Editor and Social Media Manager of PIA MIMAROPA.

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