IN RESPONSE to the dead fish incidents reported during the past few days, the Guam Environmental Protection Agency met with their resource partners yesterday to conduct a review and to identify measures to improve the current response protocol for these incidents.
According to information posted on the GEPA website, the agency met with representatives from the Guam Department of Agriculture, University of Guam’s Marine Lab, University of Guam Sea Grant, Bureau of Statistics and Plans, Guam Coastal Management Program, and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
With regard to the fish incidents, the group determined during the meeting that “although no conclusion can be drawn to the specific cause of death, the following were noted”:
- The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System monitor at the mouth of the Pågo River noted an extreme decrease in salinity and increase in turbidity on Aug. 8. This device has been in place since July.
- According to Chip Guard, NOAA Weather Forecast Office Guam Warning Coordination meteorologist, the island has entered the rainy season. Guam has had 18.21 inches of rain in August to date. This is 10.5 inches above the average rainfall level for the month. On Aug. 7, rain gauges at the Guam International Airport Authority recorded 4.73 inches of rain.
- On Aug. 8, they recorded 2.61 inches of rainfall.
- There was a low tide in the afternoon of Aug. 8.
The group also looked at aerial views of the Pågo Bay watershed and discussed upload erosion that causes sedimentation issues in Pågo Bay.
According to GEPA, seven dead fish incidents have been reported to the Guam Department of Agriculture during the past nine years. An incident can range from three fish fatalities to numerous dead fishes found on the shore. Based on reports by the Guam Department of Agriculture, most of the incidents have happened in July or August when low tides occur in the middle of the day.
In addition, the fish populations are often affected by the extremely low tides in the afternoon, when an increase in water temperature occurs. Furthermore, a shift in salinity, turbidity and temperature of water also affect fish, according to the Guam Department of Agriculture report.
The updated response protocol, according to GEPA, will include an extensive public outreach component since many of the fish-kill incidents have been reported by the public.
GEPA and their resource partners will also develop an online reporting site where the public can report incidents of fish kills and other environmental issues. Once a report has been posted, the information will be sent to the concerned agency.
In addition, contact numbers and locations to report fish-kill incidents will be publicized to facilitate the reporting process.
Meanwhile, GEPA also stated that “general environmental violations can be reported to their agency through their commenting forum.”
For more information about how to get involved with reporting fish-kill incidents, contact Tammy Jo Anderson-Taft at TammyJoAnderson.Taft[at]epa.guam.gov or by calling 475-1658/59.