PARACALE, Camarines Norte–The Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Environmental Management Bureau V allayed fears of fish kill in Malaguit River, Paracale, Camarines Norte allegedly due to small scale gold processing operations.
EMB Regional Director Gilbert Gonzales reported that the Bureau’s investigators found no fish kill in the areas traversed by Malaguit River on October 17, 2010.
“However minimal fish kill was noted at the mouth of Matanlang river, a tributary upstream of Malaguit River,” Engr. Henry Lopez, Provincial Environmental Management Officer (PEMO) of Camarines Norte clarified in his report.
EMB investigators observed floating dead fish (2 species Midyad & Butete) along Matanlang stream believed to be in decaying stage due to its foul stench.
“The dead fish observed in the upstream of Malaguit River were either remains of poisoned fishes by fishermen or from the remains of fishponds clearing after harvest,” Lopez added.
He cited Malaguit Punong Barangay Zaldy Moya’s account on local fishermen’s practices wherein they apply “sosa” or “bayate” (poison) in fishing. According to Moya, the practice involves installing a net at the mouth of the river during high tide and when low tide occurs they gather the catch utilizing poison to hasten their work.
To verify allegations of mine tailings overflow, EMB investigators inspected the tailings pond of small scale gold processing plants in Brgy. Tugos, Paracale for seepage, but no leaks were discovered. The Bureau assured a close monitoring of the tailings pond and the sources of chemicals which might have been used by some fishermen in illegal fishing.
Earlier, Governor Edgardo Tallado requested the EMB to check reports of fish kill in Malaguit River allegedly caused by mine tailings seepage. Tallado said despite compliance by small scale gold processing plants with environmental permits, it is the provincial government’s utmost priority to determine the possible cause and who will be held responsible in the incident.