Defying the Ban in Bataan

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A total of 83 Bataan residents succumbed to paralytic shellfish poisoning after defying the government’s ban in harvesting, selling and eating shellfish and other marine products from the red-tide contaminated Manila Bay since June 18 this year.

Two of the said cases died, including a three-year-old boy. Most of the poisoning cases involved fisher folk who were aware of the red tide ban but still insisted on harvesting and eating shellfish during drinking sprees.

According to marine experts, the highest concentration of the red tide organism in seawater and the toxin in shellfish meat is always found in the coastal towns of Bataan facing Manila Bay due to its warmer temperature. The first cases of shellfish poisoning are also usually reported from this province. Some 10,000 families in the province depend on shellfish gathering for their livelihood.

Despite the ban, however, a number of shellfish peddlers in Metro Manila continued to sell tahong and halaan. Vendors said that the ban is irrelevant since there was not even a single case or death reported yet due to red tide in the metropolis.

As of November, the shellfish ban was still imposed in the coastal waters of Bataan, Las Piñaas and Parañaque.

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