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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesWednesday, June 20, 2012
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BFAR probes odd death of groupers

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Negros Oriental and the Bais City government, yesterday sent personnel to verify reports of “strange” deaths of groupers or “lapu-lapu” that have baffled fishermen in the Bais Bay and nearby Tanjay City.

Ricky Soler Jr., a sport fishing enthusiast who runs a charter boat business in Bais, brought the matter to BFAR attention after seeing the fish foundering outside the Bais Bay last week.

The grouper, weighing about nine kilos, was bloated and gasping, Soler said.

Other boatmen reported similar encounters with the groupers they had seen or retrieved.

Julie Cabu of Bantay Dagat Bais City said reports about the odd and sporadic sightings of seemingly-ill groupers started two weeks ago, but no one paid much attention to them.

None of the groupers retrieved were taken as samples and submitted to the BFAR for laboratory testing since no one gave the incident a second thought or have it investigated, Soler said.

Outgoing BFAR provincial chief Leonardo Aro sent Allan Marco, fishery technologist, and Alvin Apostol, community resource management specialist, to Bais City to do a probe. The two, however, admitted that it was difficult to investigate with no concrete evidence.

Marco also instructed Cabu to continue monitoring the area in case other cases of unusual deaths of groupers occur, and to take samples preserved and examined in the BFAR laboratory.

The BFAR is not certain whether cyanide poisoning, as feared by some in Bais City, had killed the fish since there were no indication of blast fishing in the area.*JFP

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