May 26 2023

Since the onset of the oil spill in Naujan, 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. 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 traces of oil and grease in water samples slightly increased in all sampling sites in comparison to the baseline data, but these were still within the standard limit of < 3.0 mg/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, the trend indicated that the PAH amount present in seafood from Oriental Mindoro had stabilized to much lower concentrations.

Based on the available data thus far, the fishing waters of Calapan, Bansud, and Gloria are now well within the standards for fishing activities. Likewise, the Bureau’s analyses also showed that the fishing waters of Bongabong, Bulalacao, Mansalay, Roxas, Baco, Puerto Galera, and San Teodoro remained safe for fishing activities.

Conversely, the DA-BFAR still recommends keeping fishing bans in Pola, Pinamalayan, and Naujan due to the risk of contamination from traces of oil that have yet to be removed from these areas.

The agency will continue its time-series observation in the province, which will be the basis of its recommendations for concerned government agencies and local government offices.

BFAR’s interventions

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, Php12 million was allocated for fuel assistance to affected fisherfolk in MIMAROPA, 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 fisherfolk in the region. 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.