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Backhoe used to rid Philippines' lake of dead fish

Falling oxygen levels blamed for disaster

Gulf News

Manila: The number of rotting fish in Taal Lake has grown, prompting extra measures to clear the lake of rotten fish, reports have said.

Governor Vilma Santos-Recto ordered a backhoe to assist workers, who have worked non-stop to clear an estimated 800 tonnes of dead milkfish (bangus), biya, and tilapia that have been floating in Taal Lake, off Batangas, since Friday, the Inquirer said.

A mixture of soil and lime has been concocted to eliminate the foul odour in areas were the rotting fish will be buried, Talisay Mayor Senaida Zamora said.

Sampaloc Village, the hardest-hit area so far, has already been enveloped with a foul smell.

Additional measures will be undertaken since the number of dead fish is expected to rise, Zamora said. She did not give further details.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has banned the sale of dead fish, following a TV report which said that owners of 400 tonnes of newly-hauled dead fish had been looking for distributors yesterday morning. Consumers refused buy fish from fish markets yesterday.

Scientists said that oxygen levels in Taal Lake had decreased at the start of the rainy season, thus causing the disaster.

Active volcano

Other scientists said that oxygen levels in Taal Lake had been affected by Taal volcano, which is found at the centre of the lake. The volcano has been active since April.

Authorities have revealed plans to regulate the number of commercial fish cages in Taal Lake, as part of efforts to create a sustainable fishing industry in the Lake.

Several towns around Taal Lake depend on bangus and other fish species.