The oil spill from the sunken tanker Princess Empress has led to an estimated income loss of around P400 million for fishermen in Oriental Mindoro, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Nazario Briguera, the BFAR’s chief information officer, revealed that affected fishermen were losing about P19 million per day since the ban was imposed last month.
At least 26,382 fishermen in 14 localities in Oriental Mindoro and some parts of Antique were affected by the widespread oil spill. As of April 3, estimated income losses amounted to around P388.7 million for Oriental Mindoro.
BFAR spokesperson Marc Lawrence Romero added that the analysis for contaminants in fish and other aquaculture species was still ongoing but the first batch of analysis showed traces of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline.
Romero said this was one of the reasons for the fishing ban, which was implemented based on scientific studies.
Briguera said the fishing ban in Oriental Mindoro waters would continue until further notice.
The BFAR has been searching for alternative fishing grounds to help affected villagers cope with their income loss.
During the oil spill inter-agency committee meeting at the Department of Justice on Wednesday, Atty. Janice Regoso Pamit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Pollution Adjudication Board said that 92 out of 131 sampling stations still exceeded the water quality guidelines.
Shipowners Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association, the insurer of the sunken MT Princess Empress, did not attend the meeting.
Justice Undersecretary Raul Vasquez mulled sending a legal demand to the insurer, while Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said they would give them one more chance before possibly conducting a formal inquiry if necessary.
The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel, causing a massive oil spill.