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Probe sought on Negros Oriental fishkill that has displaced 200 families.

DUMAGUETE CITY -- The mayors of Bais City and Manjuyod town in Negros Oriental are asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to look into the fish kill in four coastal villages that has affected 200 fishing families.

Bais Mayor Mercy Teves Goni and Manjuyod Mayor Felix Sy wanted the DENR and BFAR to determine the cause of the fish kill that has persisted since it was first reported on June 20.

They also asked the Silliman University Marine Laboratory in Dumaguete City to help in the probe.

Goni also wanted to know who gave the go-signal for United Robina Sugar Milling Company (URSUMCO) to operate its ethanol plant in the absence of the required permits and clearances from the DENR.

The fisherfolk blamed the fishkill to the wastewater discharges from the ethanol plant of URSUMCO in Barangay Tamisu, Bais, which started operations six months ago.

The fish kill has affected the livelihood of at least 200 fisherfolk in the coastal barangay of Alangilanan and Dunggoan in Manjuyod and Batugan and Tamisu in Bais.

Bais City is known for its thriving tour industry for whales and dolphins in Tanon Strait, which is the largest marine protected area in the country.

Goni claimed that URSUMCO started its operation despite the absence of requirements such as mayor's permit, an occupancy permit and an Environmental Compliance Certificate.

Based on their records, she said the ethanol plant was still in the first stages of complying the requirements, specifically the mayor's permit from Goni's office.

Goni admitted that she was poised to issue a cease-and-desist order against the ethanol plant in the wake of the fishkill in North Bais Bay.

She pointed out that the city had been planting mangroves in the coastal areas to increase the population of fish.

But their efforts had gone to waste due to the fish kill, she added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 9, 2015
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