DENR calls for fish­ing ban in mer­cury-con­tam­i­nated Honda Bay


The Mines and Geo­sciences Bureau (MGB) of the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR) has rec­om­mended a fish­ing ban in the coastal vil­lages of Tag­buros and Sta. Lour­des due to re­cent find­ings of high lev­els of mer­cury on tested fish sam­ples taken from the sites.

Engr. Alvin Re­quimin of the MGB and project man­ager of the Palawan Quick­sil­ver Mines, Inc. (PQMI) re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion project said shell­fish and bot­tom-feeder fish species col­lected from the two ar­eas were found to be pos­i­tive for large amounts of mer­cury that have harm­ful ef­fects on hu­man health.

Re­quimin said they are wait­ing for an en­dorse­ment of the Bureau of Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources (BFAR) on their pro­posal.

“Da­pat ma-ban ang fish­ing sa Sta. Lour­des at Tag­buros. We are wait­ing for the Bureau of

Fish­eries and Aquatic Re­sources (BFAR) to en­dorse the fish­ing ban based on our re­sults, but since meron pang pag­dududa ang BFAR ay mag-co-con­duct pa sila ng fi­nal test­ing,” he said.

Santa Lour­des has been the site of a mer­cury min­ing op­er­a­tion of the com­pany Palawan Quick­sil­ver Mines Inc. (PQMI) that closed down in the early 70s.

Last year, tests con­ducted by the MGB and the De­part­ment of Health de­ter­mined var­i­ous lev­els of mer­cury poi­son­ing among res­i­dents of Barangays Sta. Lour­des and Tag­buros.

Re­quimin said they fur­nished BFAR a copy of their test re­sults since the MGB does not have the au­thor­ity to de­clare or to rec­om­mend fish­ing ban and shell­fish gather­ing in the af­fected ar­eas.

Aquatic prod­ucts, mostly seashells and some fish species within one kilo­me­ter from the shores of Sta. Lour­des and Tag­buros, and part of San Jose were found to be mer­cury pos­i­tive, specif­i­cally rab­bit­fish lo­cally known as “dang­git.”

“Lalo na ni­tong mga bot­tom-feeders na isda at seashells na ku­makain ng sed­i­ments. Ang mga dang­git ay may nakikita tay­ong mer­cury sa sam­ples. Pero mahi­rap rin kung ipa-stop ang pag­pan­guha ng dang­git. Pa­borito kasi ito ng mga tur­ista,” he said.

Vice Mayor Luis Mar­caida III said dur­ing Mon­day’s ses­sion of the City Coun­cil that shell­fish sold at the pub­lic mar­ket are mostly from Barangay Babuyan and other outlying coastal vil­lages in the north per cer­tifi­cates of ori­gin is­sued to ped­dlers.

City Coun­cilor Vic­tor Oliv­eros, on the other hand, said based on the in­for­ma­tion from MGB, it is timely to pass an or­di­nance to ban fish­ing and shell­fish gather­ing one kilo­me­ter away from their shore­lines.

Re­quimin said the MGB al­lo­cated a to­tal of P15 mil­lion, and P10 mil­lion had al­ready been uti­lized to con­struct the perime­ter fence for the pit lake in Sta. Lour­des.

The re­main­ing P5 mil­lion will be used for slope pro­tec­tion and con­tour­ing of the aban­doned PQMI mine site.

“Ni­lagyan na ng ba­bala within the pe­riph­ery of the pit lake para ma-stop ang pag­pa­sok ng mga mangingisda doon sa lawa. Ma­pan­ganib ang lu­gar na ito,” he said.

He said that based on their records, 91 in­di­vid­u­als have been found to be pos­i­tive for mer­cury poi­son­ing by their hair sam­ples while 81 have the poi­son in their blood. All in all, 172 res­i­dents in both barangays are af­fected by the mer­cury con­tam­i­na­tion.

“Nasa utak na ang mer­cury at ang ef­fect nito ay sisir­ain ang ner­vous sys­tem at ang utak. Grad­ual lang ang ef­fect ng mer­cury sa hu­man pero bin­abawasan nito ang buhay natin. Mataas na ang mer­cury sa mga pagkain na nasa pit lake. Itong mga gu­lay o fruits na may con­tam­i­na­tion ay nag-ac­cu­mu­late sa katawan natin,” he said.

Re­quimin said an amount of P10,000 is needed to shoul­der the cost of the test for one in­di­vid­ual alone which in­cludes hair, urine, and blood tests.

“Kung bibi­gyan ng gamot ay da­pat malayo sa ex­po­sure para hindi na sila makakain ng mga pagkain na con­tam­i­nated,” he said.

Last Au­gust 3-5, 2018, the De­part­ment of Health (DOH) con­ducted a health as­sess­ment in Sta. Lour­des but it has not is­sued any re­sult yet.

He added among the in­ter­ven­tion that they have iden­ti­fied in­clude re­me­di­a­tion by putting in­sects and plants in the area that will ab­sorb mer­cury and ad­dress the con­tam­i­na­tion within the pit lake and nearby af­fected ar­eas.

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