Red tide warning up on shellfish from Mati City

THE BUREAU of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is advising the public to refrain from consuming shellfish from Balite Bay, Mati City in Davao Oriental.

In a shellfish advisory, BFAR undersecretary Eduardo Gongona said that based on their red tide monitoring activities with the local government, shellfish samples were found to be positive for the red tide toxin.

“Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin level in the shellfish sample collected in the area is 82 ugSTXeq/100g of shellfish meat.

To avoid PSP, Gongona advised the public to refrain from eating, gathering, harvesting, transporting, and marketing shellfish and alamang from Balite Bay until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory limit of 60 ugSTXeq/100g of shellfish meat.

However, the fish harvested from the said area are safe for human consumption provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and their internal organs (gills and intestines) are removed before cooking.

BFAR XI regional director Fatma Idris said the alarming growth of red tide microbes in Balite Bay is detected at 1,000 cells per liter of water sample.

“For the bay to be declared safe, this number should not exceed the regulatory limit of 10 cells per liter,” she said.

PSP is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae that produce harmful toxins.

Some of these toxins are 1,000 times more potent than cyanide, and toxin levels contained in a single shellfish can be fatal to humans. Cooking shellfish with these toxins doesn’t make them safe to eat because the PSP toxins are not destroyed by heating or freezing.

Only laboratories can reliably test shellfish for PSP. Toxins can be present with no visible signs. PSP can be present in large amounts even if the water looks clear.

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