By Ernie B. Esconde, Correspondent
SAMAL, Bataan: There is no red tide in Samal and the whole of Bataan, but fishermen, ordinary workers, dealers and municipal officials on Friday expressed concern about the poor sales of green mussels known as tahong and other shellfish raised in Samal town precisely due to rumors about red tide.
Former councilman Raul de la Rosa, one of the tahong dealers, asked media men to help in the proper dissemination of information that there is no red tide in Bataan, especially in Samal.
De la Rosa, who initiated tahong-raising in Samal in 1999, said that from 250 sacks of tahong, the number has decreased by 90 percent, affecting shellfish cages in 30 hectares of the coastal waters along the Manila Bay in Samal alone.
He said that more than 300 individuals in Samal are dependent in raising green mussels for their livelihood. Fishermen from Abucay and Orani, neighboring towns of Samal, have also complained of the Red Tide alarm that has affected over a thousand people.
Dealers of the shellfish said that from P1,200-a-80-kilo sack of tahong, the price has gone down to P900 and even P700. A dealer said he used to buy 100 sacks of tahong from Samal to sell in Navotas and Malabon but the quantity has been reduced to merely five sacks.
A housewife said that her husband who works for a tahong raiser used to earn P300 a day. “Our children are going hungry because of this red tide scare,” she said.
They all blamed the red-tide panic for the poor sales of the green mussels and even oysters, or talaba, for almost a month now. To demonstrate that tahong from Samal are safe, they ate the newly cooked mussels with some members of the Bataan Press Club joining.
Alvin Rodrigo, red-tide specialist in Bataan, said they gathered samples of water and green mussels right in the waters of Samal where tahong are raised. “From our laboratory test and analysis, there is no red-tide toxin in Samal and the whole of Bataan,” Rodrigo, from the Department of Agriculture, said.
He said that for the last six years, Bataan has been safe from red-tide pollution. Their study showed that an organism called noctuluca seintilla attacks pyrodinium bahamensi, an organism that causes red tide.
Mayor Rolando Tigas of Samal said his municipality used to have a revenue of P3,000 a day from tahong. It went down to only P140 to P190 a day because of the red-tide scare, Tigas said.