By Danny O. Calleja
SORSOGON CITY (10-Nov-2012/PNA) – Sorsogon’s tahong (green mussel) industry has risen anew as a P100-million a year industry with the province’s coastal waters, once pestered by red tide continues to be free from the toxic contamination as recently announced by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“We are glad red tide is gone. Sales is brisk, so enough earning comes daily,” Anamae Balanoyos, a tahong farm operator of Barangay Talisay here, said on Saturday.
Ely Espineda of Barangay Cambulaga said he harvests five sacks of tahong daily from the 1,000-square meter farm he set up mid-last year off the shoreline of Sorsogon Bay.
His commodity, Espineda said would be sold out at the local market before the end of the day for P1,000, good enough for his family needs and the daily installment in payment of the money he borrowed from a loan shark.
He used the borrowed money in putting up the farm swiftly following the lifting in March 2011 of the shellfish ban imposed from February 2007 by the BFAR over the Bay on findings that the fishing ground was affected by Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) or red tide.
Reports from local health authorities said 13 persons died and over a hundred others were hospitalized after eating tahong and other marine products from the area during the infestation.
The shellfish ban for over four years severely debilitated the industry and economically displaced some 8,000 fisherfolk families living along the coastal villages of the four municipalities and this city surrounding the Bay.
A technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) using pure natural clay in fighting the plague as well as the coastal clean-up and waste disposal management instituted by the city government helped a lot.
Experts from the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD) of the DOST and the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines (UP-MSI) developed the anti-red tide weapon from a ball of natural clay which easily binds together the red tide organisms suspended on the water surface and settle them at the sea bottom to become inactive.
The city government had also established a multi-million peso filtration facility that purifies dirty water from the city’s wet market before it is allowed into the Bay.
Serafin Lacdang, head of the fisheries division of the Provincial Agricultural Office (PAO), said that about 200 tahong farms established at the Sorsogon Bay are now producing nearly 50 tons of tahong daily.
Apart from local consumptions, the commodity is being transported to markets in other parts of Bicol up to Metro Manila and Central Luzon, Lacdang said.
The latest Shellfish Bulletin issued by the BFAR last Oct. 25 has cleared Juag Lagoon in Matnog, Sorsogon and Sorsogon Bay of red tide toxin based on water and shellfish samples from the area. However, Dumanguillas and Murcielagos Bays were still declared positive of the toxin.
City Mayor Leovic Dioneda welcomed the BFAR report as good news for all Sorsogueños “especially the thousands of families in the province that are dependent on tahong (green mussel) farming for their livelihood.”
The mayor said contingency plans are in place and calamity funds are ready in case red tide resurges. (PNA)