BFAR welcomes probe

BOLINAO RED TIDE POISONING

AN official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said he welcomes a probe on its operations over the death of one person and hospitalization of 25 others in Bolinao town and in Masinloc, Zambales after eating tahong (mussels) last week.

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ALERT! The coastal waters of Bolinao, Anda and Alaminos have been found positive for paralytic shellfish poison.

This was announced by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) per its advisory No. 23 and Regional Shellfish Advisory No. 6 issued on December 4 and 5, 2014.

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Nestor Domenden, BFAR regional director whose office is based in San Fernando City, issued the clarification after several sectors blamed the late issuance of advisory of high red tide toxin in said area that led to the food poisoning.

He said the BFAR was not remiss in its job. “There were no lapses,” he intoned.

He pointed out that while his office is tasked to gather samples in identified coastal areas for red tide monitoring in Region 1, the investigation “will let the people know that it is impossible for a few number of personnel  (BFAR with 31 regular employees only) to cover the entire region to gather samples and do the monitoring”.

Domenden said the source of the tahong that was eaten by the victims is not from the identified sampling site.

“I welcome that move so we can openly tell the public the better way for local government unit (LGU) is to meet us halfway,” he said.

LGUs in coastal areas only send representatives to accompany BFAR team that does the monitoring. “The rest of the work is ours,” he said.

The regional director clarified that the time interval from the gathering of samples until the issuance of advisory is two weeks. It is done every Tuesday. “If it is already positive of red tide, it becomes weekly,” he said.

The advisory is issued on Fridays.

“There is no instant kit to show whether it is positive or negative,” Domenden said.

He said it is not the regional office that issues advisory on red tide but a task force in the main office that also includes the Department of Health that is tasked to do it. “BFAR alone, is not enough,” he said.

He added that the BFAR advisory on red tide does not only concern Pangasinan but the entire country. (Tita Roces)

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