THE latest shellfish bulletin from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) includes Murcielagos Bay and Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental, and Taguines Lagoon in Camiguin among the areas positive for red tide contamination. Shellfish harvested in these areas, both located in the Northern Mindanao Region, are unfit for human consumption. Several sites that are still contaminated for red tide include Inner Malampaya Sound, Palawan; Sorsogon Bay, Sorsogon; Dauis and Tagbilaran, Bohol; Tambobo Bay in Negros Oriental; and Daram Island, Zumarraga, San Pedro Bay, and Cambatutay Bay in Western Samar. Other red tide positive areas are Calubuian, Carigara Bay, Ormoc Bay, and Cancabato Bay, Leyte; Biliran Islands; Guiuan and Matarinao Bay, Eastern Samar; Dumanquillas Bay, Zamboanga del Sur; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from affected areas are not safe for human consumption. However, other marine species can be eaten with proper handling. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave
Support group seeks release of alleged NPA member
KAPATID, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, appealed to Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra to release Windel Bolinget who is being held for alleged involvement in a 2018 murder case in Davao del Norte, citing that the case “has no leg to stand on.” Mr. Bolinget, a suspected member of the communist armed group New People’s Army (NPA), was also denied due process as his case did not go through preliminary investigation, the group said. “While we ask the DoJ (Department of Justice) to heed the call of Windel’s family for due process of law and that his rights to fair and impartial trial be respected, we strongly assert that the case lodged against him should be dropped and that he should be freed as the case has no leg to stand on because it is built on nothing,” KAPATID Spokesperson Fides Lim said. The suspect’s wife also asked the DoJ to allow Mr. Bolinget to stay in the protective custody of the National Bureau of Investigation in Baguio City as she fears for his life, citing the P100,000 bounty being offered by the police regional office in the Cordillera Administrative Region. The police also issued a “shoot-to-kill order should he resist arrest.” Mrs. Bolinget said, “We fear that this lays down the possibility of the notorious ‘nanlaban’ (fought back) scenario by State security forces.” Mr. Guevarra said in a mobile message on Monday that he has read Mrs. Bolinget’s appeal, and that he “will assure her that her husband’s right to due process will be respected.” — Bianca Angelica D. Anago
Commercial fishing resumes in Zamboanga as sardines closed season lifted
COMMERCIAL fishing in waters around the Zamboanga Peninsula Region resumed Mar. 1, as the three-month closed season for sardines ended Sunday. A ceremony was held Monday at the Sangali Port Area in Zamboanga City for the official lifting of the annual closed season that starts every December 1 since 2011. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region 9 Director Isidro M. Velayo Jr., in a statement last week, said monitoring data show annual sardines catch has been steadily increasing from 141,658 metric tons (MT) in 2015 to 297,683.49 MT in 2020. The closed season, initiated by government authorities and industry stakeholders, was a policy intervention to revive the dwindling sardines population. Sardines is one of the region’s main products with at least 11 major canning companies based in Zamboanga City. Closed fishing seasons are also implemented in other parts of the country, including the Visayan Sea, northeastern Palawan, and Davao Gulf. — MSJ
All aqua sports allowed as Samal reopens to tourists
SAMAL Island reopened to tourists on Mar. 1, with requirements cut down to just a confirmed pre-booking at a certified tourism establishment and a QR code per individual. The issuance of the QR code will be facilitated by the tourism facility. The island city’s tourism office also announced that all aqua sports activities are allowed, but with certain restrictions and guidelines. For snorkeling and scuba diving, visitors must bring their own equipment such as snorkel, flippers, goggles, and floating gear. For island-hopping, boats and sites must operate at 50% capacity. Other water activities allowed include jet and water skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, and banana boating. Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy, in an interview last month, said tourism accounts for up to 40% of the island’s income, and the almost year-long closure of the industry has severely affected resort owners and workers as well as the local government’s tax collection. “Tourism is a rising industry in Samal and we need the income,” he said, adding that revenue from tourism would contribute to the city’s ability to allocated local funds for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Department of Tourism’s Davao regional office said 73 resorts on the island have been checked for health protocols and certified for reopening. For more information, visit the Samal tourism office’s Facebook page, Samal Turismo.