POLA, Oriental Mindoro — The damage cost and losses due to the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro are about to breach the P1-billion mark, according to data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
The oil slick from MT Princess Empress, which sunk in February, has damaged P445.33-million worth of fishing gear and produce, resulting into a P441.25-million profit loss for some 26,000 fisherfolk, BFAR data showed.
Since the start of the oil spill, the government has been monitoring the situation in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Western Visayas, the agency said in a statement.
“It has also provided technical support i.e. analyzing water and seafood for contaminants and formulating science-based recommendations on fishing bans, as well as livelihood interventions, food and relief assistance, and clean-up assistance to protect the public from hazards caused by the oil spill and to address the needs of affected fisherfolk and their families,” it said.
“Water and seafood samples are collected in select areas and analyzed on a weekly basis,” it added.
The BFAR found that 86 fish and other marine samples collected from March 10 to 11 from seven municipalities in Mindoro “did not show the presence of petroleum-related products,” while three seaweed samples taken from the municipality of Caluya in Antique “showed the presence of petroleum-related products.”
Twenty-three water samples were collected from March 9 to April 4 from 10 municipalities of Oriental Mindoro and Caluya in Antique “showed minimal levels of oil and grease,” the BFAR said.
Fifteen fish samples collected from Oriental Mindoro on March 4 to March 10, and seaweeds collected from Caluya, Antique on March 4 both showed “low levels” of toxins and contaminants, according to the agency.
“Since the Bureau found low-levels of PAH in seafood samples, it recommended keeping fishing bans in areas concerned while the time-series analyses are still ongoing,” it said.
“The Bureau is fast-tracking the laboratory tests without compromising the accuracy of data, which would serve as the basis for its future recommendations.”
The decision to lift fishing bans in affected areas “should be in conjunction with other relevant agencies concerned with public health and environment,” the BFAR said.
So far, the BFAR said it has allocated P22-million worth of livelihood assistance for affected fishing communities, and has distributed P720,945-worth of personal protective equipment and other clean-up materials.
Earlier this week, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that some 37,000 families or 178,306 people were affected by the oil spill.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be visiting Pola, one of the most affected towns, on Saturday for a situation briefing from local officials, and to distribute aid to affected residents.