MANILA, Philippines - The El Niño phenomenon is causing the proliferation of red tide toxins in four coastal areas including Sorsogon Bay in Sorsogon, Bislig Bay in Surigao del Sur, Dumangquilas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur and Murcielagos Bay in Misamis Occidental.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said it has detected red tide contamination in the first three areas for several years now, with Murcielagos Bay added last January.
BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento said lack of rain due to the El Niño phenomenon could cause high red tide incidence because the bacteria proliferates more when the water is stagnant.
Sarmiento said the bureau has already installed checkpoints in the four areas to prevent the transport of shellfish to markets.
The BFAR official warned that all types of shellfish gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption. He added, however, that fish, squids, shrimps, and crabs harvested from these areas 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.
Symptoms of red tide poisoning are nausea, dizzyness, a tingling sensation in the mouth or face, paralysis of limbs and inability to breathe, which can lead to death.