Some P441.25 million in income has been lost in 22 fishing days due to the Mindoro oil spill, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said Saturday.
In a briefer sent to media, the BFAR said more than 26,000 fishermen were directly affected by the oil spill as of March 31, and they suffered P714 in daily income lost.
"Data from DA-BFAR showed that there were 26,719 FishR registered fisherfolks directly affected by the oil spill as of March 31, 2023. They incurred an average daily income loss of Php714.00 on current PSA estimates, with almost Php20M daily losses—which translated to a total income loss of PhP441,253,428.00 in twenty-two (22) fishing days," BFAR director Demosthenes Escoto said.
"Meanwhile, the damage or losses in terms of inputs and produce, fishing gears and paraphernalia, and facilities and equipment amounted to a total of Php445,333,928.00. These include: Fisheries Production Losses from MIMAROPA’s Commercial and Municipal Fisheries valued at Php14,138,400.00; and damage to 119 metric tons (MT) of Seaweed Productions in Western Visayas valued at almost Php3 million," he added.
The MT Princess Empress sank on February 28 off Najuan, Oriental Mindoro while carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel.
BFAR said it has been analyzing water and seafood for contaminants weekly.
It said it has detected minimal levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which is harmful to humans and living organisms and accumulate in the flesh of marine organisms.
"The DA-BFAR detected minimal levels of PAH, including benzo(a)pyrene or B(a)p, from the initial samples collected," BFAR said.
It said that 86 fish and other marine samples were taken on March 10 to 11 from seven municipalities in Mindoro (Bongabong, Bulalacao, Gloria, Mansalay, Najuan, Pinamalayan, and San Jose) for testing. These did not show the presence of petroleum-related products.
However, from seven seaweed samples collected on March 31 in Caluya, Antique, three showed the presence of petroleum-related products.
Meanwhile, 23 water samples collected from March 9 to April 4 from 10 municipalities of Oriental Mindoro (Bansud, Bongabong, Bulalacao, Calapan, Gloria, Mansalay, Naujan, Pinamalayan, Pola, and Roxas) and Caluya in Antique had minimal levels of oil and grease which is within the standard set by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.
BFAR also said 15 fish samples collected from Oriental Mindoro from March 4 to 10 showed low levels of PAH.
Likewise, seaweed taken from Caluya, Antique on March 4 yielded low-level PAH.
On Wednesday, the BFAR said it recommended keeping fishing bans in oil spill-hit municipalities in Oriental Mindoro after finding low-level contaminants or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the fish samples.
"Since the Bureau found low-levels of PAH in seafood samples, it recommended keeping fishing bans in areas concerned while the time-series analyses are still ongoing," BFAR said.
A total of P22 million worth of livelihood assistance has been allocated by BFAR for affected fishing communities.
This includes P4.4 million worth of post-harvest technology packages for 10 fisherfolk associations and cooperatives or 689 families.
It also includes P12 million worth of fuel subsidy for fisherfolk who had to seek alternative fishing grounds.
The BFAR said it is considering providing affected fisherfolk some fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats.
As for food and relief goods, the BFAR said it has earmarked P1.5 million for food assistance to 5,689 affected fisherfolk in Mimaropa.
Meanwhile, P580,500 has been used to help displaced fishing groups in Western Visayas, BFAR said.
For cleanup operations in Oriental Mindoro, BFAR said it deployed P720,945 worth of PPE, ropes and other materials.
It added that it has also deployed monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) vessels. —KG, GMA Integrated News