Thursday, June 16, 2011

Science, Technology and Society: The Taal Lake Fish Kill

FISHKILL Workers bring to port tons of milkfish (“bangus”) killed in the Taal Lake in Batangas following a drop in temperature. ARNOLD ALMACEN (Inquirer News)

The Taal Lake Fish Kill has been the hottest issue a month ago and according to EarthWeek1 on June 3, 2011, more than 800 tons of farmed fish died abruptly when the water temperature of Taal Lake suddenly changed.
Now, the question is “Who’s to blame?” or “What to blame?” Could it be the technology? Could it be the society? Could the phenomenon be explained by science?
Basically, there are five (4) possible reasons why fish kill occurred in Taal Lake.
The volcano. Perhaps, the volcano gave out a lot of sulfur and thus, the fishes died. Sulfur can actually cause severe damage in vascular and enzyme systems of animals.2
Toxins and chemicals. If in case the fish farmers in Taal are using pesticides and other chemicals, these could be the culprit of the massive fish kill. Sometimes, the effects of these pesticides are also harmful to the fishes.
High water temperature. Since the earth is now experiencing global warming, which is contributed by man’s technology, the weather is hotter than ever… and due to a very hot weather, there was a change in temperature of the water. If the water is hot, the solubility of oxygen in water becomes low.3 Thus, the fishes in the lake could have found it difficult to breath and then died.
High number of plankton. Planktons are microscopic organisms found in water. If the water is concentrated with these organisms, there will be a competition for oxygen and other necessities like nutrients, sunlight, etc. Thus, a high number of plankton is a threat to the fishes. Just imagine a lake covered with planktons.
On the other hand, as confirmed in Philippine Star, there is a main reason for the fish kill.
Greed and ignorance. Joey de Venecia III referred to the fish cage operators in Philippine Star, “Their failure to follow the recommendations of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to remove the cages which hampered the flow of tidal water in narrow areas was the main reason for the fishkill.”4 Perhaps, the cage operators do not want to remove cages because of the profits that they could get or they were just being ignorant.
Analysing and predicting the reasons why fish kill occurred in Taal, it is considered that Science, Technology and Society have a very tight interplay. Thus, considering one, the other two should be considered as well.