Feline dies from barracuda meal in Zamboanga City

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page -

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A domesticated cat died recently after eating a piece of barracuda bought by a family from the fish market in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

The feline had difficulty in breathing and became paralyzed after consuming the raw fish that the family was supposed to have for their meal. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said it found traces of cyanide on the fish and was believed caught using the poisonous chemical.

The family even brought the dead cat and the fish to the police and narrated how the animal convulsed until it died. Police were investigating whether the barracuda was caught by illegal fishing method using the highly toxic chemical. Illegal fishing is not uncommon in Zamboanga.

Barracuda, which can grow as long as two meters, is widely available in Zamboanga due to its cheap prices compared to other fishes, but it also contain toxic substance they get from eating marine plankton called “dinoflagellates” that can cause ciguatera poisoning in humans who consume the fish with “ciguatoxins.”

Just on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte warned local officials where illegal fishing activities are prevalent that they would be charged administratively and dismissed from service if they fail to stop fishing methods which destroy the country fishing grounds and corals, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

He said Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona, of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, reported to him that there are still local officials, including mayors and village chieftains of coastal communities, who have done little or none at all against the continued illegal fishing activities such as dynamite and cyanide fishing.

According to the data of the BFAR, the country loses about $30 billion every year to illegal fishing, coral destruction and foreign poaching, an amount which could lift the country economically if the illegal activities are stopped.

Piñol said he also reported to the President the problem of illegal fishing in the country which is abetted in some areas of local government officials.

“President Duterte immediately said that the campaign against illegal fishing will just be as relentless as the campaign against illegal drugs. The President said that town mayors and barangay chairmen who could not stop illegal fishing activities in their areas will be charged administratively for dereliction of duty and dismissed from government service,” he said.

Piñol directed all regional heads of the BFAR to submit to him the names of village chieftains and mayors of coastal towns where illegal fishing activities are still going on. He said the list will be validated by the Department of Agriculture and then submitted to the Department of the Interior and Local Government for the administrative proceedings.

He said BFAR earlier reported to him that Davao, Zamboanga, Palawan and Mindoro showed that local fishermen are starting to catch the big fish species again like Tuna because the small fish species population has increased because of a 3-month closed fishing season and successful antiillegal fishing campaign in several fishing grounds of the country, including the Davao Gulf.

Barracuda hovering in the strong current at the Paradise Reef, Cozumel, 2003

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