Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Legarda bats to investigate the massive fishkill in Taal Lake

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, June 9, 2011-Senator Loren Legarda has filed Senate Resolution 498 directing the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, Environment and Natural Resources, and Climate Change for the immediate investigation of the recent massive fishkill in Taal Lake.

Since May 26, there were over 700 metric tons of milkfish and tilapia, worth approximately Php57.226-million that died in the different fish cages which surrounded in Taal Lake.

Legarda revealed that with the massive fish kill, consumers and fishermen are affected. The fishkill reportedly affected as much as 27% of the fish supply of Metro Manila and will certainly affect majority of the fisherfolks from the lakeside communities of Taal who depend primarily on fishing as the source of their livelihood.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported that the fishkill was caused by an overturn wherein moderate to heavy rains made the surface water of Taal Lake cold and dense which in turn forced the deep hot bottom water containing pollutants to rise, heating the fish cages thereby depriving the fish of dissolved oxygen.

BFAR revealed that the recent fishkill in the Kakiputan Channel in the towns of Bolinao and Anda in Pangasinan were also caused by these changes in temperature.

Legarda said that the sudden drop in temperature and the heavy rains which led to the overturned may have been caused by the extreme shift of weather brought about by climate change, adding that there have been reports to BFAR that the run-off from the Baleter River leading to Taal Lake was discolored and contained animal waste.

Legarda said that there is a need to determine the various and interrelated causes of this disastrous fishkill in the place to protect our ecosystem, the livelihood of the communities surrounding these bodies of water, as well as the consumers who may be affected by the same; thus, she filed resolution directing the committees to conduct an immediate investigation in aid of legislation on the cause of the massive fishkill in Taal Lake.

Prior to this, BFAR already warned that improper aquaculture practices such as intensive feeding, overcrowding of fish cages and overstocking of tilapia fry, as well as the presence of unconsumed fish feeds, urine, domestic, industrial and agricultural wastes in the lake may have contributed to its high levels of hydrogen sulphide and ammonia way back 2008, the decomposition of which consumes oxygen. (Jason de Asis)


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