Occurrence of Red Tide in Philippine Bay
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Background : Philippines

Occurrence of Red Tide in Philippine Bay

Rapid increase in population, urbanization and industrialization reduce the quality of Philippine waters.  The discharge of domestic and industrial wastewater and agriculture runoff has caused extensive pollution of the coastal water bodies.  This effluent is in the form or raw sewage, detergents, fertilizers, heavy metals, chemical products, oil and solid waste.

The extent of water pollution in the Philippines Bays can be gleaned from the frequent occurrence of red tide since it first came to the attention in 1983.  Red tide usually occurs when high organic loading from rivers drain into bays resulting in harmful algal blooms (HABs).

From 1983 to 2001, a total of 42 toxic outbreaks have resulted in a total of 2,107 paralytic shellfish poisoning cases with 117 deaths.  Earlier, only a few coastal areas of the country were affected in scattered locations, but today, this has grown to a total of 20 coastal areas.

For Manila Bay, during the 1992 Pyrodinium red-tide outbreak, around outbreak, around 38,500 fisherfolks were displaced from their livelihood due to the red tide scare.  Estimated economic losses for displaced fisherfolks was PhP 3.4 billion (in 2002 prices). (Environmental Monitor 2003)

In response to this phenomenon the Inter-Agency Committees on Environmental Health chaired by the Department of Health (DOH) created the National Red Tide Task Force (NRTTF) composed of different government agencies and academic institutions chaired by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Agriculture.

The National Red Tide Task Force (NRTTF) is mandated to monitor toxic red tides in our country.  This is to protect the public from the illness and death caused by the red tide toxin and also to mitigate its negative impact to the shellfish industry.  A regular issuance of the red tide update is also being undertaken.

The ultimate goal of the NRTTF is to minimize, if not, stop the occurrence of Paralytic shellfish Poisoning (PSP) in our country during toxic red tide outbreaks, through an effective management system that can successfully management and mitigate recurring outbreaks of harmful algal blooms and decentralize the management of shellfish bans to the provincial level.

The red tide policies on the imposition and lifting of the shellfish ban formulated by the NRTTF will certainly guide red tide managers especially the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the effective management of toxic red tide.  The policies are based on the data collected through time by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the LGUs.

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