Fish from Taal Lake safe to eat; fishers need assistance to harvest
Nasugbu, Batangas — “The local fishers were right after all; the advisory warning of the health department against consumption of fish from Taal Lake was too early, and could seriously impact the livelihood of small fisherfolk, as well as ordinary consumers,” This was the reaction of the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, after the laboratory analyses conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) revealed that consumption of fish from Taal Lake is safe.
The Department of Health (DOH) last week warned the public not to buy and eat fish from Taal Lake amid the unrest of the Taal Volcano.
The DOH warning, according to PAMALAKAYA, prompted objection among the local fisherfolk of Taal Lake, saying the warning could further pulldown the farm gate value of their fish products due to “stigmatization”.
“Farm gate price of tilapia is at P30 per kilogram. We fear that the DOH warning could ultimately downgrade its price from the small fisherfolk. Thus, we appeal to the DOH to recall its advisory to prevent escalation among the consumers as well as deter the unreasonable retail price increase of fish in the market,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist solon, finally appealed to authorities that “instead of putting a blockade to local residents, they must assist them to harvest fish in the lake,”
PAMALAKAYA said that due to the continuous volcanic quakes of Taal, many fish species, including the endangered Tawilis (Sardinella Tawilis), swim to the surface, thus, fishermen take advantage as source of livelihood and income.
“Instead of preventing the locals from going back to their communities, the authorities should assist or at least secure the safety of the fishers while harvesting bountiful fish,” He added.
“This will ensure that our fisherfolk could still make ends meet while being evacuated,” ended Hicap. ###