Fishers group urges DOH to thoroughly study, before announcing hazard of consuming fish from Taal lake
Nasugbu, Batangas – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) urged the Department of Health (DOH), in cooperation with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), to thoroughly study first the hazard of consuming fish products from the Taal Lake, as mere announcement could trigger a serious socio-economic impact on the fisherfolk sector and poor consumers. The department issued an advisory warning the public against consumption of fish products from Taal Lake, which could be contaminated by sulfur brought about by the eruption.
“We humbly appeal to the DOH to thoroughly study first, like actually getting a sample from the fish cages, to exactly determine the levels of hazard of eating them. A concrete study will decisively encourage and educate the affected fisherfolk and poor consumers in nearby area. Consequently, if it is proven, appropriate agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry should be on guard against speculative raising of prices and selling of contaminated fish products,” according to PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap said in a press statement.
BFAR reported that at least 6,000 fish cages are in Taal Lake, from where about 12,000 fisherfolk source their livelihood. The calamity caused the 15 metric ton decline of supply of Tilapia, while retail prices in some public market increased from P100 to P120 per kilo, according to the Department of Agriculture. The DA announced that it is on the process of determining the water quality and sulfur content of the lake.
The group reminded the government agencies that fisherfolk sector are considered the most vulnerable sector of the calamity, for being branded as “poorest of the poor.” The group’s provincial chapter, Haligi ng Batangenyong Anakdagat (Habagat) reported that fish workers only earn P200 at most daily for working on fish cages.
“Upon issuance of totally banning fish products from Taal Lake, the government should be ready, as social protection to compensate the losses of livelihood of the sector. Madali mag-ban ng fish products, ang palagiang tanong ng ordinaryong mangingisda, saan sila kukuha ng kabuhayan. Panawagan namin na dapat holistic ang approach ng government sa impact ng pagsabog ng Taal volcano,” the fisherfolk leader said.
Finally, he urged the people to support its relief drive, particularly for fisherfolk residents of Barangay Alas-as and Pulang Bato, of San Nicolas town, exactly located on the volcano island. They are staying at evacuation centers in Nasugbu town and across the province.
“Halimbawa lang ang mga mismong kasapi ng chapter naming Habagat na nagtatrabaho sa mga fish cages. Ngayon ay wala na silang kabuhayan, at umaasa na lamang sa mga relief. Kaya, dapat handa ang gubyerno sa mga magiging hakbang nito, tulad ng pag-ban sa mga fish products mula sa Taal Lake,” he ended. ###