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Buhi Declares State of Calamity

Lake Buhi fishermen and fish cage operators reel from P 80 M Tilapia fish kill
BUHI, Camarines Sur (5 November)-THE SANGGUNIANG BAYAN of this lake town has passed a resolution during its regular session on Thursday (Nov. 4) declaring a "State of Calamity" in this locality after more than 600 Tilapia fish cage operators and marginal fishermen in Lake Buhi reeled from the economic impact of the recent "fish kill" that devastated 80% of the Tilapia stocks in the lake valued at more than Php 80-Million in losses.

The Bicol Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) estimated that about 100 metric tons of 'Tilapia' were found floating dead in Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur.

During the municipal council session on Thursday, Buhi Vice-Mayor Omar Mercurio  had tasked the Sangguniang Bayan Committee on Lake Development to identify the marginal Tilapia growers that need assistance, and implement a general plan to cushion the effect of the fish kill on the livelihood of the lake residents.

Meanwhile, Buhi Mayor Rey Lacoste during a conference with the directors of BFAR and the Department of Agriculture (DA), urged the national government to intervene in saving the rich resources of Lake Buhi, a traditional irrigation source and fishing grounds now threatened by silt and pollution that is mainly killing the eco-system of the lake.

DA Bicol Director Jose Dayao and BFAR chief Dennis Socorro had recommended drafting a plan for a clean-up of the lake which will entail incurring huge funds and the implementation of an amended municipal fishery ordinance of the lake that would regulate the growing number of fish cages.

At present, statistics show that fish cages now number some 20, 000 in the entirety of the lake.

In a study made by BFAR Fisheries expert Aida S. Andayog, she  recommended a "skip-feeding system" for Tilapia growers to lessen the heavy pollutants now affecting the lake due to excessive feeds used in more than 5,000  Tilapia fish cages now occupying 70% of some 1,700 hectares of Buhi's lake area.

In the meantime, BFAR and an environmental team sent by Camarines Sur Provincial Government has gathered water samples at the lake villages where the fish kill started  eight days ago, but local experts are still at the dark on the real cause of the massive fish kill affecting fish cages in the 10 lake villages of Buhi.

Buhi municipal administrator Bethoven Nathor said that test conducted by experts revealed that currently oxygen levels in the lake remains low; it was also traced by experts that the fish kill started in Barangay Iraya and spread to adjacent villages Ibayugan, Tambo and Salvacion carried by strong lake currents due to the heavy rains.

With the recent set-back in Tilapia production in Lake Buhi, BFAR experts in Camarines Sur said that Tilapia supply in public markets in Bikol will dwindle.