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Legarda calls for close monitoring of water situation vs fishkill

BAGUIO City, Feb. 28 — Vice presidential bet Senator Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino raised on Sunday the alarm for government’s local fisheries units to monitor the water situation against fishkill which has already hit the provinces of Ifugao and Isabela.

She also warned against possible red tide in Pangasinan, which she visited as part of the NP bets' campaign sortie here.

The towns of Bolinao, Anda and Sual are Pangasinan's leading bangus (milkfish) producers, supplying 60 percent of demand in Metro Manila. In 2002, a massive fishkill hit Bolinao, destroying about P400 million worth of bangus being cultured in fish cages.

“I call on the regional field units of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, with the help of local governments and civil society, to monitor the water situation in their localities against fishkill. I also urge the Department of Agriculture to expedite the cloud-seeding operations to trigger rains,” said Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Rising temperature and little rainfall in the Magat River which courses through Ifugao and Isabela has caused oxygen depletion in the water, killing the fish. Dead tilapia were reported to be seen floating in fish pens, cages and ponds in the first incidences of “fishkill” as El Nino peaks.

“This is another huge blow to the livelihood of our fishermen and farmers, who are bearing the brunt of the El Niño. Government should extend special support to them if they are to weather this crisis,” said Legarda.

She has instructed the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM), which she chairs, to direct local agriculture extension workers to assist farmers and fisher folk access fund, build their irrigation, market their products and create alternative sources of income.

The COCAFM is a joint-congressional body mandated to monitor the implementation of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1997. This 12-year-old law still needs to be implemented fully because even if many systems are already in place, many coordination activities have to be pushed. (PNA) scs/jfm

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