Expert confirms virus killing prawns, crabs in Vitali ponds PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 10 February 2014 11:27

As residents of Barangay Vitali are seeking for answers on the spread of skin diseases and crustacean (prawn and crabs) death, a Zamboangueño expert from the Zamboanga City State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZCSCMST) confirmed yesterday the presence of ‘white spot syndrome virus’ which kills crustaceans in fishponds.

This after the City Council’s Committee on Agriculture chaired by Councilor Miguel “Mike” Alavar together with Councilors Mel Sadain and Josephine “Pin-Pin’ Pareja motored to Vitali and held a dialogue with the residents including fishpond operators to find out solutions on the crustacean death and skin diseases infecting young and old folks.

Ernesto Dela Merced, buyer of crustacean products, lamented on the low production of prawns (locon) and shrimp.

De La Merced said in year 2000, they can harvest about one-ton of shrimps.

“But now, a two-month old prawn (lokon) is under size about two-and-one-half inches only.

“Bien grande lugi kame na gastos apektao tambien diamun investment,” Dela Merced said in the vernacular.

Arthur Panganiban, a Zamboagueño expert on aquaculture from the Zamboanga City State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZCSCMST), provided the answer to the problem in Vitali. He said it was a case of ‘white spot syndrome virus’.

Panganiban studied in Japan and upon arrival in 2006, was assigned to the Sibugay Valley Management Council to find out solutions on the mass mortality of black tiger shrimp.

Panganiban’s team discovered the presence of ‘white spot syndrome virus’ in Kabasalan and Ipil and traced it on the import of crustacean seedlings from Bacolod and Iloilo infected with the said virus.

“As early as 2008, we already detected the virus in Vitali. It’s just a matter of time it will proliferate in the city which started in 2010 and 2011,” Panganiban said.

He clarified the ‘white spot syndrome virus’ is incurable and is infecting only crustaceans like crabs, shrimps and other shell products.

“There is no effect in fish and humans, so, about the skin diseases that some individuals are suffering that does not come from the white spot syndrome virus,” Panganiban stressed.

He suggested the Vitali to stop farming on crabs, shrimps and other crustacean products as the virus is on its “peak season: contaminating all other fishponds in the Zamboanga Peninsula and other cities and provinces.

Vitali residents also complained of skin diseases they are suffering from. They include young and old folks who are complaining of rashes in the different parts of their bodies.

Miriam Mendoza, a resident of SPDA, Vitali, complained of  big itchy rashes on her stomach since 2011.

Mendoza challenged local officials to take a bath on their river.

“Pruba vosotros baña alyi na rio,  mira quita si hinde penetra con ustedes kagit na querpo? (You try to take a bath at the river, you will see for yourselves if rashes/allergy will not penetrate your skin)” Mendoza said.

Eden Jimenez of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) clarified that it depends on the reaction of the individual’s immune system.

“One factor we should consider is the immune system or maybe the person is suffering from dermatitis,” Jimenez said.

“But this is not sure unless there’s baseline data to come-up with a conclusion,” Jimenez added.

District 2 Councilor Mike Alavar, chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Agriculture, said there is really a problem that needs to be corrected.

“There is really a problem and it is not hearsay to address the issue the soonest possible time,” Alavar said.

The Council’s Committee on Agriculture is expected to conduct another occular inspection at the mining site of Atro firm in Vitali on February 15, 2014. — MLF