RED TIDE-HIT. A portion of the coastal waters of Daram in Samar province in this May 24, 2019 photo. It is one of the three coastal areas positive for red tide toxins based on the July 14, 2022 testing. (Photo courtesy of Jeco Hermosa)

TACLOBAN CITY – The red tide phenomenon has recurred in three coastal areas in Eastern Visayas, the first occurrence recorded since February this year, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office here announced on Friday.

Citing results of laboratory examination by the BFAR regional fisheries laboratory conducted on July 14, shellfish meat samples collected from the coastal waters of Biliran Island; Leyte, Leyte; and Daram, Samar were found positive for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) or red tide toxin.

BFAR Regional Director Juan Albaladejo said the heavy rains in the past weeks have triggered the runoff of pollutants from the upland to the sea.

“These sudden recurrence of red tide in three near shore coastal waters in the region, which previously have history of a red tide event, might be due to the series of massive rains. This cause run off of soil sediments rich in organic load that fertilized the cyst of red tide. These were upwelled from the sea bottom and causing the sudden appearance of red tide events,” Albaladejo said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

This is the first red tide occurrence in Eastern Visayas in the past five months.

Favorable weather that prevailed in the region since February contributed to the region’s red tide-free status.

Albaladejo asked local government units in these three coastal areas to heighten their watch against the gathering, trading, and consumption of shellfish to prevent the incidence of PSP.

PSP occurs from ingesting bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, oysters, and clams) that contain toxins and its symptoms include tingling of the lips and tongue, which may begin within minutes of eating toxic shellfish or may take an hour or two to develop.

Symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing.

Fish, squid, shrimp, and crabs harvested in these areas are safe to eat “provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking.”

BFAR has been regularly analyzing water samples through its regional laboratory to ensure that shellfish products are safe for human consumption. (PNA)