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Aklan town lifts fishing ban following oil spill clean-up

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 The local government of New Washington, Aklan, has lifted its fishing ban in several communities after a river was cleared from the ill effects of an oil spill.

The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Western Visayas gave the Lagatik River a clearance, prompting New Washington Mayor Jessica Panambo to sign Executive Order No. 40, lifting the ban on Thursday, June 6, barely two weeks after the accident.

The oil spill, caused by an accident involving a vessel at Metallica Shipyard in New Washington town, prompted Panambo to impose a fishing ban on May 26 within the vicinity of the shipyard and several surrounding areas.

Engineer Jonathan Salvador, the shipyard’s owner, said he also received a temporary closure order from the town government following the incident.

The vessel was destabilized by rising seawater from Typhoon Aghon (Ewiniar), resulting in erratic movements that damaged an oil container, Salvador said earlier. He said an entangled rope beneath the vessel further contributed to the instability.

Salvador, expressing hope for the resumption of shipyard operations, cited the river’s clean-up as grounds for reopening.

However, the closure impacted the manufacturing of an P80-million trimaran vessel intended for search and rescue operations in Eastern Visayas.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) helped in manual clean-up efforts, collecting around 7,000 liters of oil slick and river water.

The spill’s impact extended to local fishermen, with two families directly affected. New Washington, known for its marine produce, particularly oysters, faces economic repercussions from the spill.

Based on records from the Department of Social Welfare and Development-Western Visayas, about 432 families in New Washington received food aid because the temporary fishing ban affected several fishing communities.

The incident was not the first involving the vessel from Metallica Shipyard. In November 2023, a vessel damaged fishing traps during transit from Iloilo, attributed to crew unfamiliarity with the area.

Authorities continue to investigate the spill’s cause, while local government agencies collaborate to mitigate its effects. –

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