ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Oct) The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has widened a ban on shellfish, initially imposed on Sorsogon bay earlier this month, to seven more areas in seven provinces throughout the country, according to RSOE Havaria alert Saturday.
The widening of the area covered by the ban came as two more children died of shellfish poisoning and 12 other persons were hospitalized here.
In its latest advisory, the BFAR said the other areas affected by the red tide phenomenon are Juan Lagoon in Matnog, Sorsogon and the coastal waters of Milagros, Masbate; Siaton in Negros Oriental; Dumanquillas Bay, Zamboanga del Sur; Balite Bay in Mati, Davao Oriental; Irong-Irong Bay, Samar; and Bislig Bay in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.
Gil Adora, head of BFAR’s technical services, said in the advisory that shellfish and "alamang" (tiny shrimps) from these areas were not safe for human consumption.
The ban on shellfish from Sorsogon Bay was imposed on October 11 after authorities confirmed the presence of high levels of red tide toxin in its waters. A week before this, three children had died of apparent red tide poisoning.
The latest victims were brothers Mark John, 7, and Judel, 3, Jesalva, who died late Friday night at the Fernando Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital. The victims' five other siblings aged 5 to 14, and their parents, were still under observation in the hospital.
Despite this, residents of coastal villages have continued to ignore the ban on the gathering, selling and consumption of shellfish from Sorsogon Bay.
Serafin Lacdang, head of the provincial fishery section, said coastal residents were still eating "tahong" (mussels) and other shellfish despite repeated warnings. "Many of these people ignore the risks just so they would have something to eat," he admitted. (RSOE Havaria International)