Bangus from Pasig River safe to eat: BFAR

Posted at 07/18/2014 12:35 PM | Updated as of 07/18/2014 11:43 PM
Bangus rush in Pasig River. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA - Bangus (milkfish) that ended up in the Pasig River after the onslaught of typhoon "Glenda" are safe to eat, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assured.

Speaking to radio dzMM on Friday, BFAR director Asis Perez said the fish are safe for consumption as long as they are caught alive and fresh.

"Ang importante lang po yung hindi po bilasa. Basta po sariwa, maganda yung mata tapos hindi siya malabot, pwede po, safe po kainin," Perez said.

"At yung kanyang katawan hindi po lumulubog. Pag sinundot niyo yan at hindi na po bumalik, yun po ang palatandanan ng bilasa," he added.

Thousands of bangus ended up in the Pasig River after water overflowed from fish pens and fish cages in Laguna Lake at the height of typhoon "Glenda."

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public against eating bangus from the river to avoid health risks posed by contamination from the water.

"Ang problema kasi sa mga tubig-tubig na ito pwedeng magkaroon ng exposure itong mga isda, na pag nakain (ng tao) maaaring magdulot ng pagsusuka, pagdudumi," DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy said.

The Makati Health Department (MHD) also said fish and marine life from the Pasig River may contain a number of toxic chemicals, including methylmercury, which has been found to be harmful to the nervous system.

Methylmercury can also cause mental and physical retardation in children, as well as other diseases like cancer.

But according to Perez, the fish will be contaminated only if they have been exposed to the chemicals for a long time.

He added that the toxic chemicals found in the Pasig River have been washed out after water from the Laguna Lake overflowed.

"Yun pong sinasabing mga substances na dating nasa Pasig River, alam niyo po sa taas po ng itinaas ng tubig diyan ay pareho na po yung tubig ng Laguna Lake saka po ng Pasig River sa ngayon. Kung meron man pong mga pollutants bago po mag-bagyo eh sigurado po tayo na-wash out po yan. Nagpalit-tubig po yan," he said.

The BFAR director also pointed out that the fish would only go to waste if the people would not take them.

"Ang bagyo po kasi hindi po niya kayang patayin yung isda. Ang nangyayari nga lang po ang isda nakakawala, so from a private owner it becomes owned by the public... Sayang po naman dahil ito po naman ay yun nga, wala nang may-ari," he said.

Perez advised the public to keep some of the fish, noting that prices may increase in the coming days due to the typhoon.

"Kasi tingin po namin after this storm po, medyo marami po kasing tayong naapektuhang mga fish pond and fish cages, malamang po mamahal po yung presyo niyan in the coming days," he said.