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Fishing ban lifted in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro amid oil spill

The fishing ban imposed on Calapan, Oriental Mindoro following the oil spill from the sinking of the MT Princess Empress was lifted on Saturday.

In John Consulta’s “24 Oras Weekend” report on Saturday, Calapan City Administrator Atty. Raymund Ussam explained that the fishing ban was lifted after experts reported that there were no indications that the fish in the area were affected by the oil spill.

“Hindi pa naman mapanganib kaya wala pang basehan na-ideclare ang ban ng fishing sa Calapan kaya after a day ni-lift natin ang advisory. Sa ngayon po, pinapayagan muna natin ulit na maglayag ang mangingisda,” Ussam said.

(It's not dangerous yet so there is no basis to declare the fishing ban in Calapan so after a day we lifted the advisory. For now, we allow the fisherman to sail again.)

However, swimming was still prohibited in the shoreline of Barangay Navotas, Maidlang, and Silonay.

Ussam said they would continue to provide emergency assistance for the affected fishermen and residents in Calapan City.

“Nagro-rollout pa rin tayo ng emergency assistance kasi alam niyo po, bagaman walang ban sa fishing activities ngayon, siyempre may takot po ang mga consumers doon sa mga produktong dagat natin, Ussam said.

(We are still rolling out emergency assistance because you know, although there is no ban on fishing activities now, of course the consumers are still afraid of our marine products.)

Based on the data of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, around 20,540 families in 10 towns were affected by the oil spill.

“Ang aming focus pa rin doon sa Pola, which right now sampu na lang iyong area na iyong barangays na in particular na aming tinutugunan ng aming shoreline cleanup operations namin,” Commodore Geronimo Tuvilla, commander of incident team Oriental Mindoro, said.

(Our focus is still on Pola, where, right now, there are 10 areas or barangays that we are concentrating our shoreline cleanup operations in.)

RDC Reield Marine Services, the company that owns the Princess Empress, said a foreign vessel and remotely operated underwater vehicle would help to locate the sunken ship and assess the damage.

The operation also seeks to determine if oil was still leaking from the ill-fated motor tanker.

The foreign vessel and remotely operated underwater vehicle will arrive in Oriental Mindoro on Monday.

The Princess Empress was carrying 900,000 liters of industrial fuel oil when it sank due to strong waves on February 28. All 20 people on board were rescued.

According to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the motor tanker sank 400 meters into the ocean, which was too deep for divers to reach. — Richa Allyssa Noriega/DVM, GMA Integrated News