Saturday, July 15, 2006

Honda Bay declared free of red tide

By Eliseo Valendez

FINALLY, PUERTO Princesans can eat shellfish again from the bountiful waters of Honda Bay.

Contaminated by red tide toxins that caused paralytic shellfish poisoning for almost four years, Honda Bay is now officially free of the organisms, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said in a recent advisory.

This means that seafood caught in the bay are now safe for human consumption, according to the June 16 advisory.

The lifting of the red tide advisory for Honda Bay came after the latest analysis from the Department of Agriculture’s BFAR and the city government showed negative results for the toxin.

Selina Cabungcal, head of the Palawan Marine Bio-toxin Unit, told Bandillo ng Palawan said three consecutive samplings of the meat of shells taken from the area were tested for red tide toxin contamination, and all yielded negative results.

Red tide toxins have contaminated Honda Bay, one of the major fishing grounds in Puerto Princesa City, since August 2002, BFAR said.

Cabungcal said red tide refers to the bloom of dynoflagellates, a single-celled organism living in the sea. In Honda Bay, marine scientists said the species called pydormiobahamensis was the culprit.

This usually happens “when a long dry season is immediately followed by heavy rain,” Cabungcal said.

Excessive nutrients from water run-off into the sea causes the bloom of the organisms, which in turn lead to red tide poisoning, she explained.

Cabungcal added there were no reported cases of food poisoning while the area was banned for red tide.

The announcement was welcome news for residents in many fishing villages in the city who had suffered immensely when red tide plagued Honda bay.

Malampaya Sound in the northern municipality of Taytay continues to be red tide free, the advisory said.


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