The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has issued a recommendation for a renewed fishing ban in Calapan City and five Oriental Mindoro towns, emphasizing the persistent impact of the massive oil spill caused by the sunken MT Princess Empress oil tanker three months ago.
Despite initial cleanup efforts, the long-lasting consequences of the spill continue to pose a significant threat to the marine environment, prompting BFAR’s call to reinstated a fishing ban on Tuesday, May 22, “due to the risk of contamination from traces of oil that have yet to be removed from the area.”
The tragic sinking of the MT Princess Empress resulted in a catastrophic release of oil into the surrounding waters off the coast of Oriental Mindoro, affecting Calapan, its capital city, as well as the towns of Pola, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud and Naujan.
The oil spill had an immediate and detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem, disrupting the delicate balance and jeopardizing the livelihoods of local fishing communities.
Stating the result of their latest analysis based on water and fish samples, BFAR has strongly recommended the reinstatement of a fishing ban in the affected town after the tests showed low-level contaminants or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from the samples.
However, oil and grease discovered in Calapan, Naujan, Bansud, Gloria and Pinamalayan slightly increased but were still within the standard limit of lower than 3.0 milligrams per liter for waters suited for voyaging and fishing conditions, as well as fish propagation intended for marketable and food purposes.
The ban will prevent further contamination and support the restoration of the natural balance in the affected area.
BFAR has set aside a total of P117.864 million to provide essential emergency assistance and support the recovery of fishers in areas affected by the oil spill.
These funds will be utilized for a range of purposes, including immediate relief, early recovery efforts, and mid- to long-term recovery aid.
As part of these efforts, P4.4 million has already been allocated to conduct postharvest training programs for various fishers associations and
This investment aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of the fishers, enabling them to adopt sustainable practices and improve their productivity in the aftermath of the oil spill.
Furthermore, over P1.5 million has been utilized to provide vital food assistance to more than 5,000 affected fishers in the MIMAROPA region, encompassing Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
This assistance ensures that these fishers have access to necessary sustenance during this challenging period.
BFAR will continue to provide support to affected communities by exploring alternative livelihood options and extending financial assistance until fishing activities can be safely resumed.
If the fishing ban takes effect, the duration will be subjected to periodic evaluations of the environmental conditions and progress in the restoration efforts.
BFAR, along with other authorities, is committed to preventing future incidents of this magnitude and ensuring the protection of coastal ecosystems and the livelihoods of local communities dependent on them.