BFAR warns: Don’t eat shellfish from Bolinao, Anda

LINGAYEN– This is bad news again to the shellfish farmers of Bolinao and Anda towns.

The Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has issued a public advisory confirming that the shellfishes from Bolinao and Anda are already contaminated by the deadly red tide organism.

The Shellfish Advisory No. 17, series of 2017 dated April 7, 2017 signed by Undersecretary for Fisheries/Director of BFAR Eduardo Gongona, said that based on the results of the red tide monitoring activities of the BFAR and the local government unit, shellfish samples collected from coastal waters of Bolinao and Anda, Pangasinan are now positive of red tide toxin.

BFAR has banned the eating, gathering or harvesting, transporting and marketing of shellfishes coming from Bolinao and Anda.

Specifically, the advisory said “paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxin level in shellfish sample collected from the said area is 78-90 μgSTXeq (microgram saxitoxin) /100 grams of shellfish meat.”

“Thus, to avoid Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), the public is advised to refrain from eating, gathering or harvesting, transporting, and marketing shellfish from coastal waters of Bolinao and Anda in Pangasinan until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory limit of 60 μgSTXeq/100 g of shellfish meat,” the advisory said.

The Pangasinan provincial government confirmed receiving the advisory from   BFAR.

However, BFAR clarified that fish coming from the two towns are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and their internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed.

Gongona said the BFAR and the LGUs are continuously monitoring the coastal waters of Bolinao and Anda to safeguard public health as well as to protect the fishing industry.

Bolinao and Anda are two of the biggest producers of shellfishes such as mussels and oysters in Pangasinan, which are being shipped daily to Dagupan City and Manila.

The red tide episode in these areas usually occurs during the extremely hot summer when salinity of the water is unusually high, a condition which enhances the growth of red tide organism called algal bloom.

These areas used to be red tide free, till in early 2000, said Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center, based in Dagupan City.

He suspected that the red tide organisms may have been transported by ocean-going vessels passing the international waters near Pangasinan and by cargo ships bringing coal to the coal-fired power plant in Sual town from abroad.

Fortunately, the contamination did not yet reach Dagupan City which also produces oysters and mussels in smaller quantity in its rivers, whose water consists of a mix of salt water and fresh water flowing from the uplands. (Leonardo Micua/Tita Roces)

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