Earth Watch Report - Biological Hazards - Mass Animal Deaths
|Biological Hazard||Philippines||Davao Oriental, Mati City|
|Fishermen in this city are at a quandary where and when they would get their next income after the rains brought by low pressure area, now tropical depression Agaton (international name: Lingling), as well as a massive fish kill in the area, has made fishing almost impossible. The stench of rotting fish along Barangay Dahican, Sitio Maitom, Kinhason 2 in Mati City is enough to get one’s attention. The shoreline, which used to be home to seashells, corals and drift woods, has become a deathbed for hundreds of small fish species. “When it rains non-stop in this area we usually see dead fishes floating but this is the first time I saw so many of them dead,” said fisherman Leonardo Bacor in the local dialect. Mr. Bacor, who has spent most of his 57 years along these shores, was among those who first saw thousands of dead fishes floating along the Dahican River. Thousands of dead fishes have also been seen in nearby Sitio Guang-Guang. He said it has been raining non-stop for almost a week now and with almost a ton of fish floating dead along the river most of the fishermen in the area like him have not been able to go fishing this week. “The other fishermen who went out in the sea were able to get very small fishes and in very small quantities after the fish kill,” he added. While he owns his boat, Mr. Bacor has become frustrated with what is happening considering that he has seven children to feed, two are now in college. He said they have not yet heard or has received any support from the local government.Without other options for livelihood, Mr. Bacor and the other fishermen in the area gathered the small fishes washed ashore by the tide and left them to dry under the sun for bulad (dried fish). His wife Felicisima, said they had no choice but to eat the dried fish, which her husband made out of the dead fishes washed ashore by the tide. “We don’t have banana or other crops to eat so the only option we have now is to eat the fish,” she added. Rebecca Purgatoryo, a 54-year-old fish vendor, spent most of the days last week chatting with Felicisima and the other housewives in their area since she does not have anything to sell. She said she used to bring up to 30 kilograms of fish to sell everyday but with the fish kill, she has nothing. The fishermen said the people who know about the fish kill are wary about buying fishes in Mati’s wet markets nowadays for fear that these might be contaminated with chemicals. Most of the residents in the area where the fish kill happened have been suffering from fever and gastrointestinal problems. They claim even their water sources might have been affected by whatever it is that caused the fish kill. Most of the residents source their water from deep wells. “We are not sure what caused the fish kill but we have already sent a fish sample to the laboratory to test for possible pesticide or other content,” said Fatma M. Idris, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-11).
Ms. Idris, who personally went to Sitio Maitom to check on the reported fish kill, said it is best to have the samples tested for content to put all doubts and rumors to rest as to what really caused the fish kill. BFAR-11′s technical people also went to the area to get more water samples for laboratory testing. The city government of Mati has already created a task force to focus on the fish kill. Mayor Carlo Luis P. Rabat said he wants to clarify that they did not give any order for the cessation of fishing in the area despite the incident. However, he asked the fishermen to bury the dead fishes in safe areas. “If they make dried fishes out of the dead ones, then that might prove unhealthy and dangerous to health,” he said. Officials from the BFAR’s field office in Mati said there was zero visibility underwater in the areas where the fish kill happened. They also reported low water salinity and low oxygen levels in the water. Mr. Rabat was concerned about the period of recovery after the fish kill but Ms. Idris said it will depend on how long the area is cleared of the dead fishes first. “We have to remove all the dead fishes in the area and the waters before we can conduct a thorough cleanup,” BFAR field staff Archie Samson said.
|Biohazard name:||Mass. Die-off (fishes)|
|Biohazard level:||0/4 —|
|Biohazard desc.:||This does not included biological hazard category.|