The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) released a strict warning against consuming shellfish from red-tide affected bays in Eastern Visayas.

BFAR 8 (Eastern Visayas) Director Juan Albaladejo said  numerous cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning have been recorded every December due to the traditional Christmas and New Year parties.

“There is a lot of drinking spree and celebration and shellfish are a favorite pulutan (food eaten with alcoholic drinks) in coastal communities. We have to issue this stern warning because of the daring nature of Waray-speaking people who just ignore warnings,” he said. 

Two people were killed in 2016 due to shellfish poisoning while 40 others got sick in the towns of Cabucgayan, Kawayan, and Maripipi in Biliran province.

As of this week, red tide-positive areas are Cancabato Bay in Tacloban City; and San Pedro Bay, Irong-irong Bay, and Silanga Bay, all in Samar province.

With the current red tide, eating shellfish meat are prohibited over the possibility of food poisoning. 

The BFAR examines water and meat samples from the positive areas three times a week.

The bureau encouraged the public to stop eating, harvesting, selling, and buying shellfish products and Acetes sp. (small shrimps) from the affected bays until the shellfish toxicity level has gone below the regulatory level.

However, the BFAR said fish caught in the area are safe for human consumption as long as they are fresh, washed, and cooked thoroughly.  (RJ Espartinez)