TWO barangays in Isabela town, situated along Binalbagan River in southern Negros Occidental, reported a fish kill possibly caused by sulfur contamination following heavy rains that washed out ash fall emitted by Mt. Kanlaon.
Arturo Calma, municipal agriculture officer of Isabela, told Sun.Star Bacolod on Tuesday, May 24, that fish kill incidents were recorded in Barangays Tinongan and Panaquiao starting Monday afternoon, May 23.
Calma said that sacks of dead fishes, particularly tilapia, mudfish, and eel, were found floating on the river, some covered with mud.
“We have learned that some residents are even collecting dead fish for consumption,” Calma said, adding that monitoring and assessment is being conducted by the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Municipal Agriculture Office.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) through its Fisheries Division took water and mud samples from the two affected barangays on Tuesday.
Aquaculture technician Constancio Española Jr. said they will subject the samples to laboratory analysis to determine the actual cause of the fish die-off.
Aside from Isabela, fish kill incidents were also reported in some areas of Binalbagan, La Castellana, and Moises Padilla located along the Binalbagan River.
But Española said there is no confirmation yet from Binalbagan and Isabela.
“The last positive fish kill incident in La Castellana was last April this year, but for now, there is no confirmed reports from the area,” he said.
The Provincial Disaster Management Program Division (PDMPD) is also validating reports on fish kill, said its head Zephard Gerhart Caelian.
Caelian said heavy rains over the weekend washed out the ashfall from Mt. Kanlaon toward nearby bodies of water, including Binalbagan River.
“The high contamination of sulfur in the river might have resulted from the pyroclastic material flow brought by the recent ash fall emission of the volcano,” Caelian said, adding that according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), “it is a normal occurrence.”
Last May 11, a sulfurous odor that lasted for almost 10 hours was smelled in portions of La Carlota City and La Castellana town, particularly those living near Mt. Kanlaon.
For areas with confirmed fish kill incidents, PDMPD warned residents to avoid consuming dead fish, or even swimming in the affected-portions of the river.
“Exposure and intake of contaminated water pose health hazards, including poisoning and skin diseases,” Caelian said.