Debris from Japan volcano reaches Batanes shores

Debris from Japan volcano reaches Batanes shores
Photos of pumice stones and other volcanic debris from the Fukutoku-Okanoba volcano found on the shores of Batanes.
Phivolcs / Release

MANILA, Philippines — Pumice stones and volcanic debris from a volcano in Japan that erupted in August have reached Batanes, posing danger to marine life and fisheries, the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology said Tuesday.

The presence of volcanic matter in Batanes was first noticed on November 21 in the coves of Batan and Sabtang islands, which Phivolcs said was carried by ocean currents to the shores of Japan and the Philippines.

Volcanic debris was generated by the recent eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba, an underwater volcano in the Bonin Island group in Japan located more than 2,000 kilometers northeast of Batanes and Aparri, Cagayan.

Phivolcs warned that these stones and ashes can damage boats and their engines, block drainage pipes, and kill marine animals if they ingest these. The agency also warned of the possibility of seawater contamination from leached volcanic sulfur.

It said people should avoid swimming and other beach activities for now as volcanic debris reduces visibility when swimming underneath and may cause abrasions. This also reduces the danger of ingesting seawater with potentially harmful substances brought by volcanic matter.

Local governments are advised by Phivolcs to coordinate with the Office of Civil Defense to enlist the Philippine Coast Guard in warning sea vehicles on the presence of pumice and other volcanic matter and in containing the debris.

They are also told to look for a place to temporarily collect the pumice and explore long-term plans for proper disposal or use. Personal protective equipment such as goggles and face masks should be used when hauling or transporting these debris as they may become finer particles as they dry out.

Last year, Batanes accounted for less than 1% of the Philippines’ total fisheries production having only produced 856.80 metric tons of fish, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. — Xave Gregorio

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