₱42.9-million tilapia destroyed in Taal Lake fish kill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Over 600 tons of tilapia worth around ₱42.9 million were lost to a fish kill that hit Taal Lake in Batangas, authorities said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said some 121 fish cages have been affected in the villages of Buso-Buso and Gulod in Laurel town and Bañaga in Agoncillo.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources issued warnings as early as May 26 that the lake water had reached a dangerously low level of oxygen. By the evening of May 27, around 10 cages of fish have been destroyed. Three days after, over 200 metric tons of fish turned belly-up. Some 33 cages of dead fish have yet to be retrieved and buried.

The DENR on Friday gave fish cage owners 24 hours to remove all the dead fish, warning of sanctions if they fail to do so.

Maria Paz Luna, head of DENR in the Calabarzon Region, however admitted that "not all fish cage owners are capable harvesters, since they do not own large boats for hauling."

"The harvesters are currently hauling dead fish from their own cages. Existing boats will also temporarily serve as aerators until water quality improves,” she added.

She assured that the fish kill will not jack up prices, saying it only comprises a small percentage of the total supply.

Journalist Ron Lozano contributed to this report.