FISHERFOLK DEPENDENT on shellfish gathering in the two Davao Region areas affected by red tide have been given alternative livelihood options, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Balite Bay in Mati City and Sta. Maria in Davao Occidental have been declared positive for red tide toxin in the latest BFAR advisory. “BFAR already extended interventions to fisherfolk and what we are doing now is we help them based to their capabilities,” Raul C. Millana, BFAR-Region 11 division head for fish production and support services division. Some have been offered work in fish farms while others were given fiber glass boats and fishing paraphernalia. Maria Loida M. Avorque, BFAR-11 senior aquaculturist, said the El Niño phenomenon contribute to the red tide occurence. “During dry spell the temperature is high and if temperature is high and the water is dirty, so when typhoon Chedeng occurred, there was leaching out of nutrients from the upland and goes to the sea. These toxins are due to algal bloom… This could not be avoided because apart from this is a natural phenomenon, our waters are already polluted,” she said. Mr. Millana said shellfish is among the top five priority commodities being promoted by BFAR and steps are being taken to prevent the spread of the red tide toxins in other areas. “In Region 11, with the collaboration of other local communities, we are closely monitoring beginning with the point of origin. What is important is the toxins should not move from one place to another,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo