Entire area of Lake Sebu under state of calamity due to tilapia deaths
2017-02-10 19:12:48   copyfrom:    hits:

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato (Photo: GinaD CC BY-SA 3 0)PHILIPPINESThursday, February 09, 2017,23:40 (GMT + 9)Officials

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. (Photo: GinaD/CC BY-SA 3.0)


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Thursday, February 09, 2017, 23:40 (GMT + 9)


Officials of Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato have decided to place the entire area under the "state of calamity" after a massive fish death that destroyed around PHP 126 million (USD 2.5 million) worth of tilapia.

Roberto Bagong, action officer of the Lake Sebu Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said the municipal council issued the calamity declaration based on the office recommendation.

However, he noted that the council set conditions that needed to be accomplished in line with the declaration, among them, the immediate submission of some documentary requirements.

Three villages, Poblacion, Takonel and Bacdulong, had already been placed under the state of calamity due to the impact of the fish death from 27 January to 4 February.

This event of massive fish death, which is considered the worst in Lake Sebu so far, destroyed around 1.4 million tonnes of tilapia from 4,944 fish cages owned by 464 operators, Philippines News Agency informed.

The latest assessment by local authorities estimates that the total value of damages exceeds PHP 126 million, considering an average price paid to the producers of tilapia of lake Sebu of PHP 90 (USD 1.8) per kilo.

Following the calamity declaration, the MDRRMO has convened the town’s fish-cage operators and other stakeholders to a meeting for dialogue and consultation.

Bagong expects to introduce to local fishing stakeholders various recommendations made by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources(BFAR) and the provincial government of South Cotabato to help address the recurrent fish death at the lake.

These recommendations include the enforcement of the 10-percent limit of the lake’s area for aquaculture development as set in the Philippine Fishery Code of 1998.

Around 20 percent of the 354-hectare lake is presently occupied by fish cages, which is higher than its carrying capacity.

“They also recommended the setting of a regular closed season for fishing and a moratorium of two to five years for fish-cage operations,” the officer emphasized.

The municipal government will push for the immediate cleanup of water hyacinths or water lilies in parts of the lake. In addition, it will also forge memorandums of agreement with fish-cage operators for the conduct of regular cleanup in areas that they occupy.

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