MANILA, Philippines - The fishkill phenomenon that started in Taal Lake is already affecting the whole industry’s income.
In an interview with ANC, newly-appointed Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) chief Asis Perez said “nobody is buying fish anymore, even fresh fish being sold in markets…The industry is ruined. Everyone’s suffering, even [the businessmen] from Bulacan and Iloilo.”
Fears that double-dead fishes are still being sold in public markets have turned away buyers. Some are also shying away from even buying salt water fish, he said.
He said the industry in Taal only produces 5% of the “total bangus production,” but other provinces are already feeling the crunch.
Perez assured the public that both the national and local governments are doing their best to monitor the situation, especially in Batangas.
“It’s good na dumating na ito. It gives us sense on what to do in the next 5 years,” Asis said.
Demolish fish cages
He said the recent fishkill in several towns encircling the Taal Lake can most likely be blamed on overpopulation.
“We believe there is violation [in size and depth of fish cages]. A standard one in Taal is supposed to be 10 [meters] by 10 by 6,” he said.
The fish pens should each contain not more than 10 tons of cultured fishes. “There are cages that have 25 tons…The fishes will really die,” he said.
Asis said the fishes compete for oxygen in a restricted area. “For example, tilapia, they go up to breathe if there is little oxygen. If you have overstock, some tilapia will make it, but others will not.”
He does not want to blame anyone for the incident, saying the protection of the industry in Taal is the responsibility of all sectors.
“If you have 6,000 cages and you have regulation and tell them, ‘Hey, you should only stock this much,’ then you expect them to follow. It’s for their good,” he said.
BFAR and the local government is in the process of bringing the number of fish pens down to 6,000 from the current 7,000, he added.
Not Taal Volcano
He stressed studies do not point to the recent activity in the Taal Volcano as the likely cause of the fishkill. “There is no evidence linking the 2 events.
Pinapag-aralan pero wala kami makita.”
Besides overpopulation, the fishkill incident is also connected to the sudden change in weather.
“Every time there is change in weather, there are 2 temperatures. The heavier cold water will sink. There is an overturn,” he explained. Thus, a fishkill will most likely happen in June when the temperature changes.
“We can predict, we have a sense of what is likely to happen. Alam natin na June na, so lalamig na. We can predict, but as to prevention, we can’t do that,” he added.