BALANGA City, Bataan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Friday imposed the ban on gathering and eating of shellfish from the provincial waters here spanning eight towns and this city, after laboratory tests showed shellfish samples were found positive of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) or red tide toxin.
Covered by the shellfish ban are the towns of Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay, Pilar, Orion, Limay and Mariveles, including Balanga City.
“All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption,” the BFAR advisory said.
PSP symptoms are tingling (pins and needles feeling or paresthesia); numbness spreading from lips and mouth to face, neck and extremities; dizziness; arm and leg weakness, paralysis; respiratory failure and in severe cases, death; headache; nausea and vomiting.
Danilo Abrera, provincial agriculturist, said tahong (mussel) samples collected from the affected areas showed toxin level of 1,200 unit grams of Saxotoxin per 100 grams of shellfish meat which is above the regulatory limit of 60 ugSTXeq/100 grams.
However, other seafood like fish, crabs, shrimps are safe to eat and are not affected by red tide toxin but must be cleaned well with entrails and gills removed.
Abrera said red tide toxin also affected Bataan waters in October 2014 and the ban on gathering and easting shellfish was lifted in February 2015 that rendered most of mussel gatherers and vendors jobless. The local government of Samal offered alternative livelihood to fishermen and mussel growers.
The Manila Times visited the fish section at the Balanga City Public Market on Friday and observed that most of them are not affected by the shellfish ban. Fish vendors said their sales even increased since fish and other seafood are not affected by the red tide.
Meanwhile, the BFAR on Monday also imposed a shellfish ban on large parts of the Visayas bays that include Daram Island, Irong-Irong Bay, Maqueda Bay, Villareal Bay and Cambatutay Bay in Western Samar; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Cambatutay Bay in Western Samar; Carigara Bay in Leyte and Mandaon in Masbate. Also affected are Inner Malampaya Sound, Taytay and Puerto Princesa Bay, Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
WITH NEIL ALCOBER