Fishing has been cleared in the waters off seven towns in Oriental Mindoro, while a ban will remain in effect in the fishing grounds of six towns still affected by the oil spill.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Monday said that the seawater near the towns of Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, Bulalacao, Puerto Galera, Baco, and San Teodoro is now safe for fishing.
On the other hand, the BFAR recommended the continuous suspension of fishing activity in the waters off Calapan, Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, and Bansud.
The prohibition is necessary as water samples collected indicated the ” risk of contamination from traces of oil that have yet to be removed from the area,” the fisheries bureau said.
It emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety of the consuming public and the fisherfolk by regularly testing water and fish samples for harmful chemicals.
In the areas declared as safe, water samples collected last April 24 still showed traces of oil and grease, but they were found to be within the acceptable limit set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for waters suitable for recreational and fishing activities.
The BFAR tested crabs, shellfish, demersal fish or groundfish that live and feed on or near the bottom of seas, and pelagic fish, such as herring, sprats and mackerel, that usually find food in the surface layers of the sea.
Governor Bonz Dolor gave the fisherfolk in Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, Bulalacao, Baco, San Teodoro and Puerto Galera the green light.
“Habang ipinagbabawal pa rin ang pangingisda sa mga bayan ng Calapan, Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, at Bansud ay hinihikayat namin kayong mangisda sa pinaka malapit na bayan na maaaring pangisdaan,” Dolor said.
To help the affected municipal fisherfolk, the BFAR recommended alternative fishing grounds in Paluan, Abra de Ilog, San Jose, and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro, Boac and Gasan in Marinduque, and Concepcion in Romblon. Fuel subsidies will also be provided to them as additional assistance.
Moreover, the DA-BFAR is eyeing to provide over P117.86 million worth of emergency and relief assistance, early recovery efforts, and mid-to-long term recovery aid to oil spill-hit areas. So far, P4.4 million was spent for post-harvest training for various fisherfolk associations and cooperatives, and over P1.5 million was utilized for food assistance to more than 5,000 affected fisherfolk in Mimaropa.
The MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank off the coast of Naujan on February 28, causing a massive oil spill that affected the livelihood of more than 24,600 fisherfolks.