RED TIDE. A portion of red tide-infested Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City in this undated photo. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources confirmed Thursday (Jan. 26, 2023) the presence of red tide toxins in the bay. (Photo courtesy of Camera ni Juan Photography)


TACLOBAN CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned against consuming shellfish taken from Cancabato Bay here after meat samples turned positive for red tide toxins.

In an advisory issued Wednesday night, BFAR said paralytic shellfish toxin was found during the laboratory examination by the BFAR - National Fisheries Laboratory in Quezon City.

“The public is advised to refrain from gathering, selling, and eating all types of shellfishes and Acetes sp. locally known as Alamang or Hipon from this bay,” BFAR said.

Cancabato Bay is a rich source of cockle clams being shipped to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Through testing, BFAR found that shellfish samples from the bay are beyond the maximum regulatory limit of 60 micrograms of toxins for every 100 grams of shellfish meat. Beyond that, the government strictly prohibits shellfish harvesting in affected areas.

Under Shellfish Bulletin No. 03 issued on Jan. 25, 2023, by the BFAR main office, the shellfish ban is also up in San Pedro Bay in Basey town in Samar.

The change in weather patterns has been blamed for the red tide presence in the region, according to BFAR.

Fish, squid, crab, and shrimp gathered from these areas are safe to eat provided that all entrails are removed and the marine products are washed thoroughly with running water before cooking.

BFAR asked local government units to heighten their watch against the gathering, trading, and consumption of shellfish to prevent the incidence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can occur minutes after ingesting bivalve shellfish (such as mussels, oysters, and clams) that contain red tide toxins.

Early PSP symptoms include tingling of the lips and tongue and may progress to tingling of fingers and toes and then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty in breathing.

Red tide is a term used to describe a phenomenon where the water has discolored by high algal biomass or a high concentration of algae. (PNA)