The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources have announced a ban on the gathering and eating of shell fish from Puerto Princesa Bay due to red tide toxins, deeming this seafood group as currently unsafe for human consumption.
This issue has raised alarm among local residents, citing concerns on the possible negative impact of human activities around the said body of water, manifesting in the recent rise of toxins.
While “red tide” is defined as a natural phenomenon brought by the proliferation of algae in water, which leads to an algal bloom, studies have also found out that it can be a result of excessive run-off of land-based applications such as fertilizers, as well as effluent from sewage treatment and spills. Substances like these can trigger blooms among the populations of Synachocchus (a harmless green slime algae) which serves as an energy source for Karena brevis, the algae that causes red tide. A proliferation of the green algae can eventually lead to a bloom among Karena brevis populations, potentially leading to an algal bloom.
It is thus not a stretch to worry that the activities around the Bay may have contributed to the current problem, pending official findings from authorities.
Issues concerning sewage disposal in the Bay are not new; in the past, concerns have been raised over the direct disposal of household and industrial sewage into the water without prior and effective treatment. Historically, the Baywalk area used to be occupied by informal settlers where proper waste disposal was a real issue.
Red tide is a serious concern as it can ultimately reflect our way of life as residents of Puerto Princesa. At the risk of romanticizing the issue, this is perhaps among nature’s telltale warnings, tapping again on our self-awareness concerning our activities. As the environmental principle says, “everything is interrelated” so an examination and call for repair of our potential damages to the Bay is again urgently warranted.