TACLOBAN CITY – Authorities hav intercepted on Wednesday a fishing vessel transporting 1,200 kilograms of green mussels (tahong) from Carigara Bay in Leyte, which is covered by a shellfish ban due to the recurrence of the red tide phenomenon.
A joint seaborne operations by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) led to the seizure of green mussels harvested in the red tide-infested bay.
BFAR regional director Norberto Berida on Thursday urged local government units to seriously help enforce the shellfish ban to protect the public from threats of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
PSP occurs from ingesting bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, oysters, and clams) that contain red tide toxins.
“We need the help of our local government units in ensuring that there’s no gathering, trading, and consumption of shellfish in areas with red tide,” Berida said in a phone interview.
Authorities intensified their sea patrol in response to reports of illegal transport of shellfish despite existing prohibitions.
The fishing vessel owned by a resident of Villareal, Samar failed to present a local transport permit from BFAR and an auxiliary invoice from the origin of the mussel being transported, violating the Fisheries Administrative Orders (FAOs) 233 and 235.
If proven guilty, the violator will have to pay a fine of PHP1,000 to PHP10,000 or two months to one-year imprisonment.
BFAR disposed of the seized green mussels through the help of the local government unit of Carigara, Leyte while apprehending officers will file appropriate cases against the violators.
The red tide phenomenon persists in 11 Eastern Visayas bays as abnormal weather conditions hit several parts of the region this year, according to BFAR latest advisory.
Berida said the prolonged dry season followed by sudden heavy rains has caused the recurrence of red tide in several areas of the region.
In its latest advisory, BFAR confirmed that red tide toxins remain in Irong-irong Bay in Catbalogan City, Samar; San Pedro Bay in Basey, Samar; and Maqueda Bay covering the seawaters of Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas, San, Sebastian, Calbiga, Pinabacdao, and Hinabangan towns in Samar.
Also listed as red tide-hit are Carigara Bay covering the towns of Babatngon, San Miguel, Barugo, Carigara and Capoocan, Leyte; Ormoc Bay covering Ormoc City, Merida, and Albuera in Leyte; Cambatutay Bay in Tarangnan, Samar; coastal waters of Zumarraga, Samar; seawaters of Daram, Samar; Villareal Bay in Villareal, Samar; Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City; and coastal waters of Calubian in Leyte province. (PNA)