THE livelihood of fishermen in Brunei Darussalam has somewhat suffered in the past month after they have been banned from fishing in the waters off Tutong, Jerudong, Meragang, Berakas and Brunei Bay after the red tide situation worsened in the Sultanate.
A statement issued by the Department of Fisheries indicated that Brunei waters near the Magpie Oilfield were affected by the red tide.
The department, under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR), had earlier stated that the ban on fishing in the waters of Brunei Darussalam is still in effect as the latest monitoring shows the presence of red tide.
The department had also reminded the public to completely remove the guts, gills and other internal organs of fish before cooking, as a precautionary measure.
The public has also been advised to abstain from eating small fish if its gills, guts and internal organs are hard to remove as well as mollusk shellfish and fish from affected areas or of unknown origin.
Minister of MIPR, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya (seen at left in top photo visiting the Red Tide lab in Brunei), has advised against swimming, diving and snorkeling in affected waters.
This was also confirmed by Head Marine Environment Section Desimiwati Hj Metali, who previously clarified that although the red tide is not really fatal, it increases the risk of potential health complications for those with health ailments.
An earlier report from Miri says that fishermen in northern Sarawak were told to monitor any Red Tide intrusion into Sarawak waters after the phenomenon hit Brunei last month and resulted in a fishing ban along the Sultanate’s entire shoreline until its border with Sarawak.
‘Red Tide’ refers to the contamination or infestation of marine waters by microscopic algae that are so dense that they cause the water to look orange-brown or red.
Chairman of the Miri branch of Sarawak Fishermen Association, Musa Bujang, the crews of fishing vessels from Miri Division have been advised to use SMS to alert their fellow fishermen in case they see the Red Tide in the waters off Miri.
Musa said that the Red Tide is a very serious problem that fishermen always fear and that though Sarawak waters have never been hit by any major Red Tide infestation local fishermen are always on the alert because it is a feared phenomenon.
“Red Tide can bring very serious problems to the fishing industry. The problem is that the Red Tide can be difficult to see unless you are up in the air looking down.
“If the contamination affects a very big area, you would only see the size from an aeroplane or a helicopter,” he said.
Minor poisoning caused by the Red Tide would result in symptoms like numbness around the mouth, neck and face.
More serious poisoning causes major headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In the event of very serious poisoning, the affected person can experience breathing problems, muscle paralysis, choking and respiratory organ failure leading to death.
Red Tide algae can spread fast through water current, winds and undercurrent.
Red Tide occurrences are reported annually in oceans across the globe.
The numbers to contact are: 2770066 (office hours), 8717153, 8715005, 8878833, 8786399, 8787337 and 8675409.