TACLOBAN CITY — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reiterated its reminder to the public not to consume shellfish from two Eastern Visayas bays as red tide phenomenon remains.
In its laboratory test last week, BFAR still found the red tide algal bloom in Cancabato and Matarinao bays in Eastern Samar. Shellfish ban has been up in Matarinao and Cancabato since October 2018 and early January 2019, respectively.
BFAR Regional Director Juan Albaladejo, in a mobile phone interview, said Wednesday(Feb.6) this is the longest occurrence of red tide in Cancabato Bay. The bay has a good flushing action due to the strong current in the San Juanico Strait.
This is the third red tide bloom in Cancabato after Super Typhoon Yolanda struck in 2013. The first only lasted three days and the second occurred for three weeks.
“Usually, it is taking so long for Matarinao Bay because the area is enclosed. The longest recorded was in 2010 where it extended for a year. We need strong continuous rains and sustained wave action to flush out the red tide organism,” he added.
The presence of red tide in both shellfish meat and water calls for the prohibition of gathering, trading, and consumption of shellfish from identified areas over the possibility of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
According to website of the Washington State Department of Health, PSP is a naturally occurring marine biotoxin produced by some species of microscopic algae. Shellfish eat these algae and can retain the toxin. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with PSP and high levels of the toxin can even cause death.
BFAR conducts weekly monitoring of seawater in bays hit by red tide in the past, but for positive areas, authorities examine water and meat samples three times weekly.
The fisheries bureau advised the public to refrain from eating, harvesting, selling, and buying shellfish products and Acetes sp. (small shrimps) from the affected bays until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory level.
Fish caught in these areas are safe for human consumption provided that these are fresh, washed and cooked thoroughly, the BFAR advisory said.