By Nel Andrade
PILILLA, Rizal– Fisherfolks here are appealing to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for help following a fish kill in Laguna de Bay that affected their main source of income.
Richard ‘Bong’ Alcantara, leader of the ‘Samahang Magdaragat ng Alca Quisao’, a fisherman’s group told Manila Bulletin that the fish kill in Laguna de Bay already resulted in losses amounting to hundreds of thousands of pesos for many fishermen.
Alcantara said in Barangay Malaya and Quisao alone, tons of fresh water fish turned up dead last month. In other lakeshore villages, there are similar reports of fish kill incidents, Alcantara said.
The fishermen said they hope the DA and BFAR would provide them assistance during this period, which has been very difficult for all the fisherfolks as the health crisis has been aggravated by the fish kill.
Representatives of BFAR and Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) have collected water samples in the lake two months ago but the fishermen have yet to know the result, according to Alcantara.
“Sa pangingisda lang po kumukuha ng ikabubuhay ang mga katulad namin kaya umaasa po kaming mabibigyan ng tulong ng DA at BFAR dahil sa nangyaring fishkill (Fishing is our only source of livelihood thus we are hoping for the assistance of DA and BFAR because of the fishkill),” Alcantara said.
He said fishermen had to sell their catch to traders at a bargain price. Tilapia was reportedly sold at P40 per kilo, bangus at P90 per kilo, and the less popular Bighead carp for only P15 per kilo.
Local fishermen here have likewise been affected by the decrease in the demand for fish as most public markets operate on limited hours because of quarantine protocols.
Municipal Agriculture Office head, Arturo Carbonell, Jr., said the period from late May to August is considered crucial for the lake as the bloom of algae in the water during these months result in the depletion of oxygen, which is fatal to fishes.