DA OKs feeding of fish in Taal as water quality improves

By Lilybeth Ison

February 5, 2020, 1:39 pm

<p>Taal Lake fish cages (<em>PNA photo by Joey Razon</em>) </p>

Taal Lake fish cages (PNA photo by Joey Razon

MANILA -- Fish cage operators can now resume feeding their fish stocks in Taal Lake as water quality continues to improve.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Wednesday said based on tests conducted by the DA's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR), from January 14 to 30, the level of dissolved oxygen in Taal Lake, which is essential to fish growth and survival, has improved.

Taal water quality tests also show that the sulfide level is within normal, said DA-BFAR Region 4-A Director Sammy Malvas.

Hence, Malvar recommends fish cage owners not to overfeed the fish -- commonly tilapia and bangus (milkfish) -- to avoid accumulation of ammonia in the waters of Taal Lake.

He added that the DA-BFAR tests showed the sulfur content of tilapia samples from Taal Lake are comparable with those from the National Freshwater Fisheries Technology Center in Munoz, Nueva Ecija.

This indicates that despite the recent eruption of Taal Volcano, ash and sulfur have minimal effect on the fish.

Malvas said the DA-BFAR will continue to conduct water quality monitoring and ensure that fish cage operators are properly advised and provided needed technical assistance.

The Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc. (TLAAI) earlier appealed to the government for sufficient "window hours" to feed and harvest thousands of tons of healthy, marketable fish still in their cages.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas, and other ranking government officials involved in Taal’s rehabilitation, TLAAI reported that about 70 percent of their fish cages survived and are still floating despite Taal Volcano’s destructive eruption.

Before Taal’s eruption, the group said daily harvest from Taal Lake ranges from 120 to 150 tons of bangus (milkfish) and tilapia. Total fish production from the 6,000 cages of TLLAI members reaches more than 50,000 tons each year. Of this volume, about 60 percent is consumed in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon. The remaining 40 percent is sent to Metro Manila and sold through the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) Fishport Complex in Navotas City. (PR