TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 2 has called on all fish farmers to prevent a possible fish kill with the onset of El Niño phenomenon this year.
BFAR Fisheries Production Division (FPD) Head Dr. Severina Bueno said fish farmers must exercise “precautionary measures” amid report on the high probability on the occurrence of a dry spell this year.
“A sudden downpour after a hot afternoon can cause overturn wherein fine silt and toxic substances at the pond bottom rises to the top that can clog the gills of fish and lead to mortality,” Bueno said.
She said that although there is nothing unusual at the moment, there is a need to heed the warning of aquaculture experts because “it is really hard to predict the occurrence of fish kill.”
As precautionary measures against El Niño, Bueno has recommended the increase of water levels of fishponds if possible, as well as regular pond refreshening.
“Fish farmers should observe proper feeding management and fertilization. Do not feed on ad libitum basis and consider thinning, especially if the stocks are near harvest time,” she said.
Bueno also said a forced harvest must be considered when stocks show abnormal signs like gasping for air and erratic swimming.
For those maintaining fish farms in brackish water areas, she said they have to consider shifting to high-saline species like milkfish and siganids, and to take advantage of the dry season to dry pond bottoms to release toxic gases.
Meanwhile, the FPD is closely monitoring vulnerable areas in the region based on the agency’s Fish Watch System, which can provide updated data as it records date of stocking, culture system, among other production-related data, and on reports from the field.
“BFAR is constantly monitoring water quality of major fish production areas and ready to provide rehabilitation assistance, should El Niño occur,” Bueno said.