The Philippine fishing industry is losing close to P19 million daily as the massive oil spill in Oriental Mindoro drags on, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported.
This developed as Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said the oil spill from the sunken tanker MT Princess Empress has been “significantly controlled,” he told a Department of Justice forum yesterday.
BFAR chief information officer Nazario Briguera, quoted by ABS-CBN News, said the oil spill has displaced some 26,382 fishermen.
“Based on our estimate, the average income loss per day for one municipal fisherfolk is about P714,” he said. “If we’re going to compute that, we’re losing about P19 million per day for all those affected municipalities, including those in Caluya, Antique.”
In 22 fishing days for example, the sector will lose around P400 million due to the oil spill, the official added.
The BFAR asserted that a fishing ban was necessary after oil was found in fish and water samples from places affected by the spill.
“Right now, we stand by our recommendation that the local government units should continue imposing fishing ban to really have an assurance about the public safety,” Briguera, in the ABS-CBN News report, said.
Earlier this week, BFAR identified alternative fishing sites for fisherfolk affected by the 6-week oil spill.
For municipal boats, locals can fish in Paluan, Abra de Ilog, San Jose and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro and in Marinduque.
Further, the BFAR said it has recommended the fishing bans in oil spill-hit municipalities in Oriental Mindoro after finding low-level contaminants or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the fish samples.
The BFAR said the fish samples were collected and analyzed on March 10. Likewise, seaweeds collected and analyzed from select sites in Caluya, Antique, on March 9 also showed PAH, GMA News reported.
“The results were consistent with the findings of the DA-BFAR in its first and second batch of analyses, that is, minimal amounts of PAH levels were present in seafood collected from sampling sites in Oriental Mindoro,” a BFAR statement, quoted by GMA News, said.
“Despite low-level amounts found in the samples, the Bureau recommends keeping fishing bans in oil spill-hit municipalities in Oriental Mindoro since the initial analyses are not yet conclusive evidence as far as food safety is concerned,” it added.
The DA-BFAR also recommended retaining harvesting bans on seaweeds in Caluya, Antique, until further evaluation shows they are safe for public consumption.
Meanwhile, the agency continuously analyzes and monitors the area to establish time-series results on the oil spill’s impact on food safety.
MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Najuan, Oriental Mindoro while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel.
BFAR on Wednesday estimated the income loss due to the oil spill to be already at P388 million. Meanwhile, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) on Tuesday said it plans to provide alternative livelihood training to the 2,000 affected fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro.