Around P7.3 million worth—equivalent to 66 tons—of Tilapia were hit the latest fish die-off last May 15 in San Vicente town, Laoag City.
Fish were seen floating in Bantaoay River when local breeders were about to harvest this month’s catch.
An investigation into the incident by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) indicated that the lack of water flow in the fish cages may have caused the river’s oxygen to fall to a critical level and was exacerbated by the extreme heat experienced by the region in recent weeks.
According to BFAR OIC in Ilocos, Martin Allayban, this was the fifth fish kill that has occurred since the beginning of the year, and the second this month.
Due to the damage to the town’s aquaculture industry, some 170 fish cage operators were encouraged to “force harvest” following the most recent fish kill last May 1 to 3. Local data shows that they had sustained P13M in lost fish.
Allayban blamed the overpopulation of fish cages that has been observed in the river, which also contributed to stagnant waters and blocked waterways. He also called on local government to review aquaculture policies, with special attention on limiting the number of allowed fish cage operators.