Massive fish deaths in Philippines blamed on climate

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Around 49 metric tons of fish have been found floating dead in Sebu Lake in South Cotabato province, south Philippines, and local officials blamed the deaths on climate change, a provincial fishery coordinator told a local radio station Tuesday.

The local Tilapia fish, in 50 cages, was valued at 3.8 million pesos (88,000 U.S. dollars), said Rex Vagas, provincial fishery coordinator. He said 46.5 tons of Tilapia were found dead last Friday and 2.5 tons on Monday.

He attributed the massive death of fish to "annual occurrence," which locals call "kamahong" when water temperature rises during this period.

"We ask consumers to avoid buying and eating Tilapia fish from Lake Sebu until further notice from us," Vargas said.

Rogelio Aturdido, a provincial health officer, said eating dead Tilapia fish might cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.

The provincial agriculture office said the oxygen level in Lake Sebu had been depleted because of overstocking and water pollution, probably from fish feeds.

Fish cage operators were told by the agriculture office to temporarily stop feeding the surviving fish for at least a week to allow water's oxygen level to return to normal.

Around 13 tons of Tilapia died last July under similar circumstances.


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