Bfar 7: Seafood safe to eat despite red tide warning

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Central Visayas (Bfar 7) has assured consumers that seafood in the region is safe to consume.

This is following the announcement of its central office on Nov. 5 that at least nine coastal areas in the country, including some parts of Capiz and Bohol in the Visayas area, are threatened by red tide.

Allan Poquita, Bfar 7 director, told SunStar Cebu Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, that they have tightened their security measures and made sure no fishermen would sail in the affected areas.

Poquita said 32.2 percent of seafood in Cebu comes from its coastal areas in both the southern and northern portions of the province, such as Bantayan Island.

The remaining 67.8 percent comes from the coastal areas in Mindanao, such as Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

Last Nov. 5, Bfar Manila issued a red tide warning over nine areas in the country; coastal waters of Milagros in Masbate, Sapian Bay (Ivisan and Sapian), Roxas City, Panay, and Pilar in Capiz, coastal waters of Dauis and Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur, and Lianga Bay in Surigao del Sur.

Shellfish from the mentioned areas were found to be positive for paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) or toxic red tide, which makes them unsafe for human consumption.

Poquita clarified that none of the red tide-affected areas are commercialized and that most residents there gather seafood for personal consumption instead of selling it in public markets.

He said in the affected areas in Bohol, they closely coordinated with their local government units (LGUs), including barangay officials, to strictly guard their shores and ban gleaners (manginhasay) from obtaining seafood, particularly shellfish from the area.

Poquita explained that red tide is a natural phenomenon that occurs when a certain type of algae, such as dinoflagellate Karenia Brevis, grows out of control in seas, which is typical during the summer season. The event can last for weeks or as late as two years.

He cited pollution coming from chemicals from farming, factories, sewage treatment plants, and other sources dissolved in water on the land as another primary factor of frequent red tide occurrences.

He advised people, particularly in affected areas, to avoid eating fresh seafood and cook them thoroughly and not eat its internal organs, which could have accumulated all the toxic substances from the red tide.

“For the affected areas, it is best they wait for the announcement of Bfar before eating shellfish again. We typically examine the waters and species affected there weekly. And we lift the ban once it has a lowered level of toxicity, which is below two micrograms,” said Poquita.