GIGAQUIT, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/02 March) — Fisherfolk in this town have blamed mining as the chief cause of why they have been getting lesser catch these days.
“Before we get 10-20 kilos of fish a day, but now we are lucky if we could get five kilos,” Cresencio Neuda, president of Barangay Alambique Fisherfolk Association, said in the vernacular.
Neuda pointed to siltation of the seabed caused by mining operations in neighboring Claver as the source of their problem.
He said the sea water has turned murky, and the corals and seaweeds are covered with laterites.
A fisherman in Brgy. Alambique, Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte prepares baits in this photo taken on Feb. 27, 2016. Roel N. Catoto
“Our lives are now more difficult compared to previous years, when we could catch fish just near the village,” he said.
Junvic Guiritan, a local fisherman said a recent study noted that sediments in the sea have increased.
He said he used to get cray crabs, giant tiger prawns and shrimps.
“In 2007-2011, I could get a bucketful of lambay or blue crabs, but today I’m lucky if I could get five kilos,” he said.
He noted that shells and other fish have been gone.
Local fishermen admitted that illegal fishing activities also contributed to dwindling catch but emphasized that siltation is the biggest problem.
Claver town hosts several mining companies such as Adnama Mining Resources Inc., Taganito Mining Corporation and Platinum Group Metals Corporation.
In Nagubat Island, Alambique, a fisherman named Vincent Catulmo said their catch has decreased as a big portion of the sea has become silted.
Engr. Alilo Ensomo Jr., regional director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Caraga said they have received a report about the problems allegedly caused by siltation.
He said they will conduct separate investigation and tell the mining companies to remove the silt if the report turned out true.
He said Caraga State University has conducted a study on the siltation in Gigaquit and its impact on the marine ecosytem and fish catch.
He added the MGB will also check if sand and gravel quarrying operations along Baoy River in Gigaquit also contributed to the siltation.
Nerio G. Casil, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-13 did not comment on the issue. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)