TACLOBAN CITY – Mussel-rich bays in Samar province have been declared by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as red tide positive on July 5, effectively enforcing a shellfish ban. In its latest bulletin, BFAR found red tide toxins in Maqueda Bay and its inner portion, Villareal Bay in Samar, known as one of the top green mussel producers in the country.

Laboratory tests found 64 micrograms of toxins in every 100 grams of shellfish meat, beyond the regulatory limit of 60 micrograms. “All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption. Thus, the public is advised to refrain from eating, harvesting, marketing, and buying shellfishes and Acetes sp. from Irong-Irong Bay, Maqueda Bay, and Villareal Bay until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory level,” said Juan Albaladejo, BFAR regional director. Fish, squid, shrimps, and crabs 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, according to BFAR.

The shellfish ban was raised after nearby Irong- Irong Bay in Catbalogan City was found positive of red tide toxins, prompting the fisheries bureau to conduct twice weekly tests in Samar bays.

The phenomenon will affect the livelihood of 651 households in Samar to include traders, processors, bamboo splitters, and transport operators.
Based on previous government monitoring report, the two bays produced 10,616 metric tons of mussels with a total market value of P43.24 million through shipment to Metro Manila, Davao City, Bicol, and Cebu City.

In 2009, Samar contributed 17% to the total green mussel production in the country. It was the third top producer next to Capiz and Cavite provinces, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Maqueda Bay covers the coastal waters of the towns of Jiabong, Daram, Pinabacdao, Talalora, San Sebastian, Villareal, and Calbiga. Major bays in Eastern Visayas that are still free from red tide toxins are Cancabato Bay, San Pedro Bay in Carigara Bay, Ormoc Bay, Sogod Bay, Cambatutay Bay, and Matarinao Bay. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)