By Marie Tonette Marticio
JIABONG, Samar – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has stepped up efforts to enhance understanding and pro-active management of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), commonly known as red tide, in Eastern Visayas.
The program, dubbed as Community Alliance for Sustaining our Threatened Seas (COASTS) was launched in this town last Thursday in partnership with the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines (UPMSI) and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).
Jiabong was chosen as the pilot area since the first red tide infestation occurred in Maqueda Bay here, which killed 21 people and downed at least 278 in June 1983. It is also the primary producer of mussel or tahong in Samar.
The program also aims to address the risks of red tide blooms and pollution by providing tools to instantly detect the conditions and harmful organisms.
BFAR Eastern Visayas Director Juan Albaladejo said COASTS would improve HAB monitoring through the development of an early-warning system that can be used by shellfish and fish farmers and government agencies.
“Our production decreases due to red tide. It’s about time to change our technology to preserve our industry and mitigate water pollution,” Albaladejo said.
He also stressed the importance of having an alert system for the safety of the consumers, and for the shellfish farmers to move the products into safe areas in case of an impending HAB infestation.
Dr. Simeona Regidor, OIC of the National Fisheries Laboratory Division, noted the essence of public awareness regarding HAB in order to mitigate its harmful effects and forge alliances in maintaining food safety, livelihood security and water quality.
“Red tide is a disaster. We are still on the process of gaining more knowledge on red tide, we hope to learn more and be able to share them on other red tide infested areas,” Regidor said.
The program will also be launched in Capiz and Bolinao. These pilot sites were chosen based on their different HAB types, and their contribution in seafood production.