Tuesday, June 7, 2011

EcoWaste coalition pushes composting of fish carcasses

As coastal communities in Batangas and Pangasinan struggle to clear their areas of rotting fish from the recent fish kill incidents, an environmental watchdog asked the authorities not to just bury the dead fish, but to compost them instead.

The EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assist local government units (LGUs) to turn the stinking fish trash into sweet-smelling, nutrient-rich bio-fertilizers.

“As impacted LGUs and communities wrestle with tons of decomposing fish in cages and those along the shores, we urge the DA to turn the massive fish kill into an opportunity to produce compost that can be used by our farmers to enrich depleted soils,” said organic farming advocate Bernie Aragoza of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Ecological Agriculture.

“We’re confident that our agriculture experts would be able to guide LGUs in selecting the most suitable composting system for the enormous fish kill discards, including 'botcha' fish seized from traders,” he added.

According to a June 4 update by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of 108 fish cages were affected by the fish kill in Barangays Catubig and Culang, in Bolinao and in Barangays Awag, Mal-ong, Narra and Siapar in Anda, Pangasinan, with losses estimated at P40,710,300.

The NDRMMC also reported that 360 units of fish cages were affected in the municipalities of Agoncillo, Laurel, San Nicolas and Talisay, Batangas, and in the open water of Alitagtag, Cuenca and Santa Teresita, Batangas, with approximate losses up to P142,530,000.

Fish kill episodes were also detected last Sunday in Lipa City and the municipality of Mataas na Kahoy, also in Batangas.

Citing information from the United State Geological Survey (USGS), the EcoWaste Coalition said that windrow composting may provide an effective option for the disposal of large numbers of dead fish from the various incidents.

USGS is a science organization that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems.

Windrow composting is a composting method characterized by the piling of biodegradable discards such as garden and farm waste and animal manure in long rows or windrows.

According to the USGS biological information and technology notes, windrow composting offers several advantages including the ability to dispose all the dead fish at once, contain carcasses and pathogens, and avoid the production of leachate.

“A large-scale composting operation that is properly designed and managed provides an excellent waste management alternative to traditional waste disposal,” the USGS said.

“The finished compost is an excellent source of nitrogen that is immediately available to crops, providing additional benefits,” it also said.


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