SOUTH COTABATO - Five tons of tilapia with an estimated worth of P4.5 million were found dead and floating in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato since Friday.
According to local authorities, more than 300 fish cage operators were affected by the fish kill. The number is expected to rise when an assessment is conducted on Tuesday.
At least 90% of the fish cages were affected by the fish kill.
Jonathan Tomayao, one of the affected operators, lost P225,000 worth of tilapia fingerlings. He believes non-stop rains last week triggered the fish kill.
“Dahan-dahan, kaya ito ang epekto n'ya mas malakas ang epekto. Mas mabuti pa 'yung biglaan pagkalipas ng ilang araw, makarekober na sila. Pero kapag ganito ang panahon na dahan-dahan mas malaki ang epekto nito,” he said.
(The rain was gradually pouring, and it has this effect. It's better to have heavy rains in one go. After a few days, the fingerlings would recover. When the rain is gradual and continuous, it has worse effects on the fingerlings.)
Some operators were forced to harvest and sell their tilapia to buyers.
“Dalawang daliri lang kalaki ipalabas na, baka sakaling mabenta pa, ang iba hindi naman nabenta,” said operator Nilda Prado.
(We harvested fish the size of two fingers in hope of having them sold in the market. Most were not bought.)
The town's agriculturist, Zaldy Artacho, explained that lack of oxygen caused the fish kill.