Government studying fishkill, hyacinths
- Ghio Ong, Helen Flores () - June 25, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government will form a multi-disciplinary team to study possible long-term solutions to fishkill and the water hyacinth problem in Cotabato City, Science Secretary Mario Montejo said yesterday.

Montejo said he was instructed by President Aquino, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, to map out a long-term science-based mitigation program to address fishkill and the unabated growth of water hyacinths in Cotabato that caused severe flooding in the area.

“The DOST (Department of Science and Technology) is assembling a multi-disciplinary team that will carry out an intensive research effort to address such nature-induced mishaps,” Montejo said.

Hundreds of tons of cultured tilapia and milkfish including fingerlings of both species were killed in Taal Lake in Batangas and Pangasinan in the last week of May.

Authorities attributed the fishkill to sudden drop of temperature and overstocking that in turn reduced the oxygen level in the lake water.

“In both incidents, we see the serious disruptions in the life and livelihood of our people. The immediate effects of the fishkill and water hyacinth obstruction in Mindanao’s second largest river are bad enough. Think about the marginal communities that depend on those income sources,” Montejo said.

He said the composition of the multi-disciplinary team will be announced soon.

“It will be a DOST multidisciplinary team of experts so we can cover as much angles as possible,” DOST spokesman and Science and Technology Information Institute director Raymund Liboro said.

Montejo believes the DOST has the competence to manage the water hyacinth and fishkill issues because it can draw experts across its 22 agencies and network of regional and global S&T community.  

The research team will be composed of experts from the DOST’s Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development, Industrial Technology Development Institute and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Montejo also plans to include experts from the Commission on Information and Communication Technology, and the Ateneo de Manila University in the team to expand the scope of possible solution particularly in the fishkill incident.

Useful products

Meantime, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Joel Villanueva said they would be providing training to communities in Mindanao in converting tons of water hyacinths into useable products.

Villanueva said water hyacinths can be used in making accessories, home decors, bags, slippers, shoes, placemats and other furnishings.

“The flooding in Cotabato that was caused by water lilies will give us opportunity to turn calamity into employment generating activities and livelihood program for our people. We will turn the tons of green menace into green products,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said the tons of water lilies that would be removed from the river would give them huge volume of raw materials for these products.

According to Villanueva, the training TESDA would be providing would help generate livelihood opportunities, especially to flood victims in Cotabato. - With Mayen Jaymalin

AQUATIC AND MARINE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BATANGAS AND PANGASINAN COTABATO COTABATO CITY DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY PAQUITO OCHOA FORESTRY AND NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE AND PHILIPPINE COUNCIL MONTEJO VILLANUEVA WATER
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