23 May 2023
Since the onset of the oil spill in Oriental Mindoro, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) has been monitoring the situation in affected fishing areas. Water and fish samples are regularly collected and tested for presence of oil and grease and harmful chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), respectively, to determine if fish and other marine organisms are safe for public consumption and if fishing grounds should be reopened. This is important to ensure the safety of the consuming public and of the fisherfolk against harmful fuel in the affected areas.
The latest analyses of the DA-BFAR showed that varying levels of oil and grease and PAH contaminants were present in water and fish samples across all sampling sites in the province.
In particular, oil and grease slightly increased in Clusters 1 (Calapan and Naujan) and 3 (Bansud, Gloria, and Pinamalayan), but these were still within the standard limit of < 3.0mg/L for Class SC waters or those suited for boating and fishing activities, as well as fish
propagation intended for commercial and sustenance purposes. Meanwhile, PAH levels recorded in all sampling sites were below the baseline values.
In light of these developments, the DA-BFAR recommends keeping fishing bans in Clusters 1 (Calapan and Naujan), 2 (Pola), and 3 (Bansud, Gloria, and Pinamalayan) due to the risk of contamination from traces of oil that have yet to be removed from the area.
The recent analyses likewise showed that the fishing waters in Clusters 4 (Bongabong, Bulalacao, Mansalay, and Roxas) and 5 (Baco, Puerto Galera, and San Teodoro) were within acceptable standards for fishing activities.
Currently, the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro allows the fisherfolk of Calapan
and Naujan to fish in the municipal waters of Baco, Puerto Galera, and San Teodoro. On the other hand, the fisherfolk of Pola, Bansud, Gloria, and Pinamalayan are allowed to fish in Bongabong, Bulalacao, Mansalay, and Roxas.
The DA-BFAR will continue monitoring oil spill-hit areas for a time-series observation, which will be the basis of its recommendations for concerned government agencies and local government offices.
To help affected municipal fisherfolk, the DA-BFAR is eyeing to provide over Php 117.864
million worth of emergency and relief assistance, early recovery efforts, and mid-to-long
term recovery aid to oil spill-hit areas.
Of these, Php4.4 million was already spent for post-harvest training for various fisherfolk associations and cooperatives and over Php1.5 million was utilized for food assistance to more than 5,000 affected fisherfolk in MIMAROPA. Millions-worth of funds was also allocated for the ongoing grant and capacity building efforts of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats with marine engines to affected fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro. In addition, the Bureau has deployed monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) vessels, as
well as PPE sets and other materials for clean-up activities.
Supplementary interventions are in the pipeline, including the grant of additional FRP boats, fish aggregating devices, aquaculture feed mill projects, bangus fry, tilapia fingerlings, and fish cages to areas affected by the oil spill.