Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jun 18



Invitation to ask LTA questions on Cross Island MRT Line development
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Life History of the Banded Yeoman
Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (22 Jun 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG


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Water pressure: F&B outlets face pushback from customers as more charge for drinking water

CHEN LIN Today Online 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE — Dine at an eatery here these days and there could be a chance that you will have to pay for a glass of water to go along with the meal.

Citing rising business costs, some food-and-beverage (F&B) outlets are charging diners as high as S$1 for a glass of plain water.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, the Restaurant Association of Singapore noted that serving free water “used to be the norm several years ago”, but practices may have changed due to the rising cost of operations. It added that typically, the price for a glass of water ranges from 50 to 80 cents.

A random check by TODAY at 13 eateries in VivoCity mall found that eight of them charged between 30 cents and S$1 for a glass of tap water, while one of them sells bottled water at S$1.50 and does not provide drinking water for free.

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Among the eight who charge for drinking water, six offer refills, while two do not.

At Ion Orchard, Bugis Junction and Plaza Singapura, there was also a mix of F&B establishments which offer free flow of drinking water and those who charged between 50 to 80 cents for it. One eatery, for instance, provides complimentary water with a minimum spending of S$10 per diner, while others do not serve tap water but sell bottled water at S$1.50 to S$1.90 each.

Recently, a customer at Kim Gary Restaurant in VivoCity took to social media to air his grievances about having to pay S$1 for a glass of water.

When contacted by TODAY, businessman Wilson Wong, 49, said that Kim Gary’s service crew told him the price went up because of the water tariff hike.

“To be fair, the staff would usually mention the price when the customer orders a glass of water. Usual price is $0.60,” he said. “I have always been paying that when I dine there, but due to the noisy environment that day, I did not pay attention to the waitress. I thought it was the same old price, until the bill came.”

Mr Wong then tried to argue with the crew that the price increase was excessive in relation to the tariff hike, but he was told that “it was the reason passed down by the management”.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson from Kim Gary clarified that the restaurant’s decision to raise the price of drinking water is “certainly” not related to the water tariff hike, even though the price increase was introduced in March 2017 — just a month after the Government’s announcement of the hike during Budget last year.

“The cost of a cup of water is very complicated,” the spokesperson said. “It involves the filter maintenance, manpower, rental, electricity cost, and many more.”

From next month, water prices in Singapore will be raised again, completing a 30 per cent hike that was carried out in two phases. The first round of increase was in July last year.

The Government had warned businesses against profiteering from the move, but eateries interviewed by TODAY insisted that their decision to charge customers for tap water had nothing to do with the tariff increase, and is a matter of business overheads.

Bali Thai restaurant manager Jairus Parreno said that all its outlets serve complimentary water to diners, except the branch at Sentosa, which charges 30 cents due to the high rental cost there.

An owner of an Indonesian eatery in the eastern part of Singapore, who did not want to be named, said that instead of serving complimentary tap water, he started charging S$1.30 for bottled water a month after he took over the business, because he noticed that customers tend to ask for more than what they need, and there is cost to cleaning the cups as well.

“Charging for water has got nothing to do with the water tariff hike… customers have the tendency to abuse that privilege and that's costing manpower and resources,” he added.

‘PUSHED’ TO CHOOSE SOFT DRINKS?

When diners have to pay for tap water, some said that they find it hard to put money down for something so basic and may choose to order other beverages instead, and this would usually be soft drinks.

With the Government driving a campaign to battle the public health problem of diabetes among the population, consumers are pointing the finger at businesses, saying they have a part to play — or at least not discourage customers from drinking water by charging for it.

Mr Koh Liang Lin, 23, student, said: “If water is chargeable at the restaurant, it will push me to top up a dollar more to get a canned drink.”

Similarly, student Mohammad Taha Irfan, 24, said: “I would rather buy sweet drinks than plain water. It’s not worth it to get plain water if the price of plain water and a sweet drink is about the same.”

He added that most food outlets he patronises sell bottled water instead of serving free water, and each bottle is usually just 20 cents cheaper than canned drinks.

For diabetes sufferer Lee Chon Poh, 68, a human resource manager, he has no choice but to pay for plain water at restaurants even though it is “super not worth it”, he said.

Apart from the water tariff hike, he believes that restaurants are raising the price of drinking water because “they want people to order other drinks” which is “more lucrative” for their earnings.

Mr Lee’s daughter, student Lee Mei Ying, 21, is one of those who would like F&B businesses to join the nationwide effort to fight diabetes.

“For diabetic patients like my dad, it would be a lot more convenient and appreciated if complimentary water is being served at restaurants, especially for those who need to take medication straight after their meals.”

She added: “Providing free water can be a good step to get people to drink more water — at least it’s better than charging a high price for it, which is a turn-off.”

Art teacher Goh Yi Xuan, 22, suggested that more restaurants can have self-service water dispensers on their premises as some have done, to save time and effort.

On this, the Restaurant Association of Singapore acknowledged that businesses have a role to play, and it encourages F&B establishments to “consider making some adjustments” such as lowering sugar content in desserts, and making non-sugary drinks the default beverage at catering events. It reiterated that it “does not encourage (or) discourage” charging for tap water as this is down to the business decisions of each eatery.

Despite the concerns over rising costs, some F&B businesses such as Eighteen Chefs, Swensen’s and Ola Beach Club have no plans to put a price tag on drinking water.

Swensen’s spokesperson said: “We are offering free water because this is what our customers want. Our objective is always to make our customers’ dining experience an enjoyable one.”

At Cedele cafe, a regular patron, who did not want to be identified, noticed that its outlets at Raffles City and Novena Square have stopped providing complimentary water to customers in recent months. A waiter then told her that she would have to buy bottled water sold at the eatery.

When TODAY contacted Cedele, its manager Janice Yong said that it was a “miscommunication” and the waiter got the instructions wrong. Cedele provides bottled water because there are many customers “who prefer bottled water over tap (water)”, she said.

“Should guests decide not to purchase the bottled water, all our stores still offer complimentary water in cups,” Ms Yong added.

Ms Neeta Lachmandas, executive director of the Institute of Service Excellence at Singapore Management University, said that restaurant operators need to be aware that while some customers may not mind paying for water, there may be some who feel that offering complimentary water is “basic hospitality”, especially if this is offered by other restaurants they have visited.

Ms Lachmandas, who has experience in leading service improvement strategies and initiatives, also pointed to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore last year and its third-quarter study on the F&B sector.

She noted that the “ability to accommodate to (customers’) needs” was identified as an important driver of customer loyalty for the restaurants sub-sector.

“In light of this, restaurant operators may wish to assess if offering complimentary water would help them better connect with their customers’ need, thereby building customer loyalty in a competitive F&B landscape.”


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Malaysia: Sabah drafting law to protect sharks, stingrays

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is drafting fisheries management legislation, with a particular focus on the protection of sharks, stingrays and other endangered marine species.

State Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong said his ministry wanted to be the governing body on fisheries.

Speaking at the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 here, he said the state’s Park Enactment 1984 and Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 did not specifically provide protection for sharks and stingrays, which were in decline.

He said the new legislation would give the state better control on areas such as trade and protection of marine species.

“Should the ministry become the governing body on fisheries, we will work hand-in-hand with the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to strike a balance (between fisheries and tourism),” he said, adding that he hoped the process, which required the approval of the Attorney-General and collaboration with stakeholders, would not take too much time.

Wong said he was also looking forward to the amendment of the national Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 and Fisheries Act 1985 to allow the state to provide better protection for sharks and stingrays.

Earlier at the forum, state Fisheries Department assistant director (marine resource management) Lawrence Kissol said six species – great hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, winghead shark, reef manta, giant oceanic manta and oceanic whitetip shark – would be included in the amendments to the federal laws, pending the approval of the Attorney-General by year’s end.

There are 50 shark and 66 stingray species in Sabah waters. Sharks and stingrays are usually caught unintentionally by trawlers, which account for up to 70 per cent of catches, followed by gill nets, longline and handline fishing.

Last year, Lawrence said, 697 metric tonnes of shark (0.43 per cent) and 1,507 metric tonnes of stingray (0.93 per cent) catches were recorded by the department.

“The state government does not allow sharks and stingrays to be listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for export,” he said.

“Since 2000, no new trawling licences have been issued and the government stopped giving fishing licences to vessels from five countries in 2015.”

Sharks are worth more alive than dead, as they contribute RM220mil yearly to Sabah's economy via dive tourism
fatimah zainal The Star 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sharks are worth more alive than dead as they contribute some RM220mil to Sabah's economy, and traditional eating of shark meat should be balanced with conservation and tourism, a major forum here was told.

Semporna, a town in eastern Sabah, is a world famous diving haven and revenue from diving activities reached about USD55.3mil (RM221.85mil) a year, Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) told the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday (June 21).

Of this, shark diving made up USD16.6mil (RM66.6mil) and taxes collected from this amounted to USD3.6mil (RM14.44mil), she said.

The balance comes from various economic spin off activities such as hotels, restaurants, transport etc

image: https://content.thestar.com.my/smg/settag/name=lotame/tags=

"Protecting sharks and rays or maintaining their state or increasing them is the key message of the study," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

This was the result of an updated study to assess the current economic value of the shark-diving industry in Semporna, following the 2012 Shark Tourism Economic Valuation Study, that was led by the AIMS.

"There are many different conservation strategies, and setting up a shark sanctuary is one of them," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

She said while a study is needed to see whether a shark sanctuary would be the most feasible conservation strategy for Sabah, it could improve the diving experience of shark divers who are at risk of taking their tourism receipts elsewhere if the shark situation in Sabah continues to dwindle.

However, the situation is not so simple, as sharks and rays are part of the diet of traditional communities around Semporna, and are often the by-catch by fishermen.

Research at Pulau Mabul by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) found that the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) traditionally dry shark meat and turn them into salted fish for their own consumption.

UTM tourism research head Prof Amran Hamzah said rays have also been traditionally part of the Suluk community's diet in a dish called tiyula itum (black soup).

"The general reaction from the locals is denial, general apathy, or saying that (killing of sharks and rays) is a 'one-off' spectacle and that it did not involve protected species," said Prof Amran.

He said there is a need to educate local communities on the importance of conserving sharks and rays and also to elevate responsible tourism as an alternative source of income for them.

Other groups at the forum also underlined that the new government should review existing laws on shark protection.

WWF-Malaysia marine policy manager Shantini Guna Rajan said the review could mean regulating sustainable exploitation or completely protecting a species by including it in the list of legislation.

"Most importantly, the federal and Sabah state government must sit together to discuss how to review the regulations," said Shantini at.

The forum saw local, regional and international top campaigners discussing legal advances in protecting these sea creatures plus research and awareness raising efforts in Sabah.

Semporna is the most important hotbed in Sabah for both tourism and fishing of sharks, and the east coast district has been a focal point for researchers and campaigners.

Youth NGO Green Semporna co-founder Adzmin Fatta said it is crucial to empower the youth to change the culture in their communities.

"This doesn't mean banning eating shark meat entirely but there needs to be a balance between conservation, livelihood and culture.

"Green Semporna has been doing awareness raising work and shark education projects in Semporna.

"We have appointed 32 young shark ambassadors from secondary schools there to promote shark conservation among their peers and communities," said Adzmin.

The forum happening on June 21 and June 22 in Kota Kinabalu carries the theme "Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism".

It is jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).

It is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.


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Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever

From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope
Bill McKibben The Guardian 21 Jun 18;

If you’re looking for good news on the climate front, don’t look to the Antarctic. Last week’s spate of studies documenting that its melt rates had tripled is precisely the kind of data that underscores the almost impossible urgency of the moment.

And don’t look to Washington DC, where the unlikely survival of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to prove the political power of the fossil fuel industry. It’s as if he’s on a reality show where the premise is to see how much petty corruption one man can get away with.

But from somewhat less likely quarters, there’s been reason this month for hope – reason, at least, to think that the basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly under way.

At the Vatican, the pope faced down a conference full of oil industry executives – the basic argument that fossil fuel reserves must be kept underground has apparently percolated to the top of the world’s biggest organization.

And from Wall Street came welcome word that market perceptions haven’t really changed: even in the age of Trump, the fossil fuel industry has gone from the world’s surest bet to an increasingly challenged enterprise. Researchers at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis minced no words: “In the past several years, oil industry financial statements have revealed significant signs of strain: Profits have dropped, cash flow is down, balance sheets are deteriorating and capital spending is falling. The stock market has recognized the sector’s overall weakness, punishing oil and gas shares over the past five years even as the market as a whole has soared.”

The IEEFA report labeled the industry “weaker than it has been in decades” and laid out its basic frailties, the first of which is paradoxical. Fracking has produced a sudden surge of gas and oil into the market, lowering prices – which means many older investments (Canada’s tar sands, for instance) no longer make economic sense. Fossil fuel has been transformed into a pure commodity business, and since the margins on fracking are narrow at best, its financial performance has been woeful. The IEEFA describes investors as “shell-shocked” by poor returns.

The second weakness is more obvious: the sudden rise of a competitor that seems able to deliver the same product – energy – with cheaper, cleaner, better technologies. Tesla, sure – but Volkswagen, having come clean about the dirtiness of diesel, is going to spend $84bn on electric drivetrains. China seems bent on converting its entire bus fleet to electric power. Every week seems to bring a new record-low price for clean energy: the most recent being a Nevada solar plant clocking in at 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, even with Trump’s tariffs on Chinese panels.

And the third problem for the fossil fuel industry? According to IEEFA, that would be the climate movement – a material financial risk to oil and gas companies. “In addition to traditional lobbying and direct-action campaigns, climate activists have joined with an increasingly diverse set of allies – particularly the indigenous-rights movement – to put financial pressure on oil and gas companies through divestment campaigns, corporate accountability efforts, and targeting of banks and financial institutions. These campaigns threaten not only to undercut financing for particular projects, but also to raise financing costs for oil and gas companies across the board.”

Hey, the movement against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline got so big, the Canadian government had to literally buy the thing in order to try and ram it through. Protesters will die, a former Bank of Canada governor predicted this week – though he added the country will have to muster the “fortitude” to kill them and get the pipeline built.

For activists, the best part of the IEEFA report is a series of recommendations for precisely how to hurt the industry the most, from creating delays that “turn a marginal project into a cancelled one” to “strategic litigation” to “changing the narrative”.

The report’s authors write: “The financial world is just beginning to understand the fundamental weakness of the fossil fuel sector, and barely acknowledges the global climate movement’s growing power and reach. This has created a powerful opportunity to develop and foster a new storyline on Wall Street: that the oil and gas industry is an unstable financial partner just as it faces its greatest test.”

That’s work we’re capable of. If a few years of campaigning is enough to convince the pope we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, a few more quarters might finally persuade the suits that there’s more money to be made elsewhere. But speed is clearly of the essence. If massive losses of money loom over Wall Street, massive losses of polar ice loom over us all.


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Best of our wild blogs: 22 Jun 18


Abandoned net at Pulau Seduku (17 Jun 2018)
Project Driftnet Singapore

E-poll on proposed amendments to the Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA), Singapore
Psychedelic Nature


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Pregnant wild boar killed in accident on BKE

Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident involving three cars on the Bukit Timah Expressway towards Woodlands on Thursday evening (Jun 21).

The accident, which took place near the Mandai Road exit, left the boar's insides exposed and its litter of unborn piglets on the road.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the three cars were travelling on the right-most lane when the wild boar crossed the expressway from left to right. Two of the cars ran over the wild boar, while the third car collided into the second car.

The police said they were alerted to the accident at 7.40pm and that investigations are ongoing.

Photos circulating on social media show a dead wild boar with its unborn piglets lying nearby after an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway on Jun 21, 2018.

The incident comes after a wild sambar deer was euthanised after it suffered severe injuries in an accident along the same expressway last Sunday. Three vehicles were involved in the accident and a taxi driver was injured.

There were several other accidents involving wild boars on Singapore's roads last year.

In September, five people were injured in two separate accidents on Lentor Avenue and on the Ayer Rajah Expressway involving wild boars. In November, a wild boar was shot by police for endangering public safety at the Punggol West Flyover. A month after that incident, a wild boar caused an accident between two vehicles along the Pan Island Expressway.

The Ministry of National Development said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by MP Sun Xueling in November last year that it is working with stakeholders to "manage the wild boar issues" in Singapore.

The Government also said it will step up public education efforts on what to do if members of the public encounter animals such as wild boars.

Source: CNA/cy


Mandai area roadkill: Developer takes protective measures but wildlife experts call for more
Fann Sim Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: More can be done to prevent roadkill in the Mandai area, where an eco-tourism hub is being developed, wildlife experts told Channel NewsAsia.

A pregnant wild boar was killed in a traffic accident along Bukit Timah Expressway on Thursday (Jun 21), the fifth reported roadkill in the area since development on the project started last year. Last Sunday, a wild Sambar deer was killed along the same stretch of road.

The developer of the project, Mandai Park Development (MPD), said speed bumps were put in place along Mandai Lake Road in 2016. The process of installing hoardings started at the end of 2016 before development works started in the first quarter of 2017.

But wildlife experts said more can be done to prevent roadkill.

"They need to be far more efficient and urgent than they are doing now. At the area where a pangolin and leopard cat died, there are still no hoardings even till today," said veteran wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai.

The hoardings, which prevent animals from getting onto the roads and guides them to a safer crossing, are still being installed in phases up to this year, said wildlife experts.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the hoardings are added in phases as the project progresses.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the area, the hoardings were largely limited to the Mandai Lake Road area and not along Mandai Road, which flanks the northern region of the reserve.

"Due to forest clearing as part of the development, wildlife which inhabit these areas will be forced to move around and are at risk of getting on adjacent busy roads or highways where hoardings are not present," said Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society's (ACRES).

"More speed calming measures and complete barriers must be in the right places, not just with the development but the surrounding areas where the displaced animals could move to along the main roads to prevent animal crossings and roadkill," she added.

On slowing the traffic along Mandai Lake Road, Dr Lee Hui Mien, MPD's vice president of sustainable solutions, said that a series of speed reduction measures has been put in place.

The speed limit for most parts of the road has been reduced to 40kmh. This is further reduced to 20kmh at a stretch near the nature reserve that has been identified as a temporary crossing area for wildlife.

MPD said in January this year, an additional speed radar was installed and the number of speed humps and wildlife crossing signs increased. Road markings to indicate wildlife crossing areas were also added.

A rope bridge has also been installed along Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal animals such as squirrels and macaques move across safely, with another set currently underway, it added.

Drivers of vehicles such as taxis, private hire cars and buses that regularly ply the Mandai area have also been engaged to raise awareness on speed calming measures, said Dr Lee.

However, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum's research associate Sivasothi N said that the hoardings and traffic calming plans have been up for "a very short time".

He noted that plans for the eco-tourism park were first announced in 2014 but work only started in 2017. "That is very soon for an entity unfamiliar with development next to protected forests and the entire process has been hasty. The mitigation I've observed is slow and inadequate," said Mr Sivasothi.

"The mitigations that are needed are not yet implemented," said the vice-chair of Nature Society's conservation committee, Mr Ho Hua Chew.

PLANNED ANIMAL OVERPASS SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUILT BEFORE CONSTRUCTION STARTED

Mr Ho was referring to a planned Eco-Link wildlife bridge to help animals living in the forested areas of Mandai cross roads without danger, similar to the existing Eco-Link@BKE crossing built between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Experts said that the bridge, which will only be ready by the end of 2019 ahead of other components of the project, could have helped prevent roadkill incidents.

Mr Subaraj, who provided consultancy on the Mandai project, said various local wildlife groups had submitted recommendations to mitigate its impact on the local fauna.

"None of the mitigation measures recommended, including wildlife crossings ... to proper hoardings, everything was not in place when the developer started developing the area which shouldn't be the case. It should all have been in place then you start the development," said Mr Subaraj.

"That's the normal procedure for anywhere where there is nature even more so when there is a nature reserve. That's really unfortunate," he added.

While the Eco-Link bridge is a "great solution" and can be used by most animals, Mr Subaraj added that installing more rope bridges will help arboreal animals that live in the rainforest tree canopy move across.

National University of Singapore's wildlife biologist Joanna Coleman said that the most effective strategy of mitigating wildlife affected by building works are overpasses.

"Signage is probably the most common and cheapest mitigation measure implemented worldwide," said Dr Joanna Coleman. But a recent study showed they are ineffective, the wildlife biologist at the National University of Singapore added.

"If drivers in Singapore are generally more cautious or more likely than drivers elsewhere to obey road signs, then perhaps signage could work better here than elsewhere," Dr Coleman added.

DANGEROUS NOT JUST FOR ANIMALS, BUT ALSO FOR HUMANS

"When a large mammal strays onto a road, there's always a chance that it will cause a collision, resulting in human injury or death," Dr Coleman said.

Three cars were involved in the accident with the pregnant wild boar. Last Sunday's incident where a wild Sambar deer had to be euthanised involved a taxi, motorcycle and a car as they tried to avoid the deer. The taxi driver suffered cuts and was taken to hospital.

In May, a Malaysian motorcyclist took the Land Transport Authority and National Parks Board to court for negligence after a wild boar roadkill accident.

Mr Vicknesh Morthy suffered serious head injuries resulting in permanent disability after crashing into the carcass of a wild boar that was left along the BKE, near Eco-Link@BKE.

Apart from Sambar deer and wild boars, the reserve is also home to pangolins, Banded Leaf Monkeys, Common Palm Civets and leopard cats.

"I think we will definitely see more encounters of this nature but what is scary is that ... if you're not very careful, it could lead to a fatality of a person on the roads. If a car hits a big Sambar deer at full pace, someone could get killed," Mr Subaraj said.

"We need more wildlife crossings. We need speeds to be slowed down on certain roads especially along Mandai Road and Upper Thomson Road. And we need to have better understanding among the public that you are moving adjacent to a nature area and there is always a possibility of wildlife being around so let's be a little bit considerate and alert," he added.

Source: CNA/fs


Pregnant wild boar killed after accident on BKE near Mandai Road
Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway near the Mandai Road exit on Thursday night (June 21).

In response to queries, the police said three cars were involved in the accident. There were no injuries reported.

The Straits Times understands that the wild boar was run over by two cars travelling on the right-most lane of the expressway. A third car then collided with the second car that had run over the animal.

Facebook user Alex Soo posted photos of the aftermath which showed the dead animal lying on the road.

The bodies of several of its babies were also seen nearby.

This is the second accident in a week along the same stretch of expressway near Mandai Road that has seen a wild animal end up as roadkill.

On Sunday, a rare sambar deer that wandered onto the BKE caused a three-vehicle accident. A taxi driver was injured and taken to hospital.

The deer was later put down as its injuries were found to be too severe.

Due to the large size of the deer, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore was alerted and a team was able to safely contain the injured animal at about 7.30am, on June 17, 2018.
Related Story
Wild sambar deer put down due to severe injuries after 3-vehicle accident on BKE
The last reported accident involving a wild boar was in December last year, when one of the animals caused a two-vehicle accident on the Pan Island Expressway.

ST reported in March of several cases of rare animals ending up as roadkill in Mandai since development for the Mandai hub of five wildlife parks began in January last year.

Works are ongoing to clear secondary forests in the area near the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari to accommodate two more parks - the relocated Bird Park, and new Rainforest Park.


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Southeast Asia’s vanishing sand bans are destroying the region

Piyali Banergee Asian Correspondent 21 Jun 18;

MALAYSIA’S newly elected prime minister once said that illegal sand miners were “digging up Malaysia and giving her to other people.”

During his previous term in office, he tried to fix what he viewed as an aggressive assault on Malaysia’s heritage: the selling of its sand.

To put a stop to it, Mahathir imposed a sand export ban to Singapore in 1997, which at the time was reclaiming huge swathes of new land to expand its territory. That enterprise required vast amounts of sand unavailable to Singapore, but which could be easily found in its neighbour, Malaysia.

However, despite Mahathir’s best efforts to protect Malaysia’s environment, it appears the ban was at best only minimally effective, and in most years completely illusory.

Yet the impression largely propagated by the media has been that Malaysia’s sand ban has been in place and enforced up until last year. In 2017, Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment announced that the sand ban had been lifted and that exports of sand would be permitted to Singapore on a case-by-case basis.

But that was rather an odd announcement considering UN Comtrade reports filed by Malaysia and Singapore over nearly twenty years that appeared to contradict the suggestion that the ban had ever been in place at all.

A recent review of Malaysia’s “stone, sand and gravel” exports to Singapore and Singapore’s purchases of those resources over two decades suggests that Mahathir’s sand ban, initiated to protect a fragile Malaysian environment, was seemingly ignored, including by his own government.

For most of those years, except for a relatively brief four-year period between 2003 and 2006, the ban appeared to be ineffectual.

For example, Malaysia reported to UN Comtrade that Singapore bought US$58 million worth of “stone, sand and gravel,” or over $9 million per year on average, between 1997 – the first year of Mahathir’s ban – and 2002.

However, Singapore reports it spent $595 million during this same period, or nearly ten times what Malaysia claims. The amount of materials exported by Malaysia to Singapore during this period don’t indicate any kind of functional ban.

It’s possible the ban was slow in getting started. But in 2003, the year Mahathir left office, exports of materials from Malaysia to Singapore do, in fact, radically and quickly slump — at long last.

During this period, Singapore reported purchases of $24 million; Malaysia reported exports of $7 million. These much-reduced amounts of imports and exports do, in fact, suggest that Mahathir’s ban was at last being observed, but there may be a specific reason for this.

According to Singapore’s reports to UN Comtrade, in 2003 it began buying huge quantities of “stone, sand and gravel” from Indonesia.

Over the four years between 2003 and 2006, Singapore reports that it purchased a total of $338 million worth. This is the same time period that Malaysia’s exports of these same materials to Singapore precipitously dropped. In other words, the level of these new imports from Indonesia effectively replaced the annual amount of sand Singapore had been acquiring from Malaysia.

Unsurprisingly, by 2007, Indonesia had announced its own export ban of sand to Singapore, citing environmental concerns after the active sand extraction caused islands to start disappearing.

But, despite both Malaysia and Indonesia placing bans, the stream of “stone, sand and gravel” exports continued to flow.

In the final years of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership, between 2007 and 2009, Malaysia sold Singapore about $568 million worth of the product.

By 2010, the first year of Najib Razak’s leadership, sales to Singapore came in at $173 million, at least as reported by Singapore. And amazingly, over the next six years, Singapore reported buying a total of $1.2 billion in exports of this kind from Malaysia. In total, that’s a shocking $2 billion of sales to Singapore between 2007 and 2016.

It’s safe to say that’s no ban at all.

Is it possible that Singapore was purchasing stone and gravel, and not sand? Perhaps.

The UN Comtrade makes no distinction between these materials. But it seems unlikely at best, especially since Singapore would have spent $3 billion of public funds on just “stone and gravel” from both Malaysia and Indonesia in about ten years. That’s approximately $300 million a year on stones alone.

It also ignores the obvious. Between 1992 and 2004, Singapore was engaged in reclaiming vast tracts of new land. These areas included 2,000 hectares at Changi East and 3,000 hectares at Jurong Island. In addition, it was building public beaches and large waterfront areas at its Southern Islands.

The Changi East Reclamation Project in Singapore, a multi-phase project involving the formation of 2000 ha of land by placing hydraulically filled sand on to soft seabed marine clay. Source: Google Maps

During this period, Singapore’s appetite for sand was voracious as 5,000-plus hectares of new land requires hundreds of millions of tonnes.

But whatever the quantities, Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s professed sand bans appeared to be disingenuous. It may have been the media’s reiteration of the existence of these bans that helped perpetuate the public perception that these bans were in place, but the UN Comtrade statistics tell a completely different story.

Vietnam tells a similar story. In 2009, the Southeast Asian nation also announced a ban on sand exports to Singapore. But again, the numbers show a different reality.

Between 2009 and 2016, Singapore bought $756 million of “stone, sand and gravel” from Vietnam. Only two years – 2011-2012 – show a substantial drop in imports by Singapore. Otherwise, it appears to be business as usual.

Given these huge sums over ten years, Vietnam can hardly be said to have implemented any kind of comprehensive ban at all. Curiously, there are significant discrepancies in the values reported by each country. While Singapore claims it purchased $756 million, Vietnam only reports a sale of $126 million over the same period.

Evidence suggests that these sand bans are, in effect, no ban at all, at least in any meaningful sense.

What’s of grave importance is the damage still being done to Malaysia’s coasts and rivers, as well as those of Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian nations, due to incessant sand mining.

That’s the real story in UN Comtrade’s statistics.

If the sand mining continues and there are no effective multi-state sand mining bans put into place, the region will gradually lose their natural heritage and endanger native wildlife.

So perhaps now that Mahathir’s back in office, he will lead the way in Southeast Asia and demand a genuine sand ban in the name of Malaysia’s environment.

Clearly with everything we know of the intensely destructive impact that sand mining has on seashores, rivers, and inlands, Malaysia’s long-term environmental protection should be one of Mahathir’s top priorities.

Piyali Banergee is the lead writer and researcher for Nature Watch, an environmental watchdog group working in various parts of Asia to protect rivers and coasts.


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Malaysia: Turtles arrive on Terengganu shores for egg-laying season, and so do poachers

New Straits Times 21 Jun 18;

DUNGUN: The turtle egg-laying season has begun on Terengganu’s shores – and with it, the arrival of tourists as well as poachers.

The Fisheries Department is doing its bit to ensure that egg thieves are kept at bay to ensure the survival of the leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles which land on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast each year.

Over the past seven years, the department’s efforts have borne fruit, with over 3.6 million turtle eggs from nearly 45,000 nests being saved.

Mohammad Firdaus Abdillah, head of the department’s Rantau Abang Turtle Conservation and Information Centre, said that they deploy rangers to ensure the safety of turtles during the egg-laying season between March and October.

“Our rangers regularly patrol the beachfront throughout the state during the egg-laying season.

“And this has helped save thousands of turtles from poachers,” he said, adding that those caught flouting laws were handed to the National Parks and Wildlife Department and other agencies for further action.

Firdaus said that from 2010 to last year, a total of 44,981 egg nests were discovered along the Terengganu coastline, leading to the discovery of 3,682,848 turtle eggs.

“The department managed to successfully hatch 2,753,418 eggs at its hatcheries,” he said.

Firdaus added that the department also relocates eggs to safer areas.

“Apart from this, we carry out enforcement on land and sea, awareness campaigns, and exhibitions at schools at our Turtle Conservation Centre and other public places.

“Additionally, we hold dialogues and appear on television shows (to discuss) turtle conservation initiatives,” he said.

Starting in the 1960s, the state government selected hatching sites in Dungun, Setiu, Kemaman and the islands of Redang, Bidong, Perhentian and Kapas for turtles, owing to their dwindling number each year.

The effort has managed to increase the number of turtle landings for the three main turtle species.

Apart from Rantau Abang, two renowned turtle sanctuaries are situated at Pantai Ma Daerah in Paka and Pantai Teluk Mak Nik in Kemaman.


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Best of our wild blogs: 21 Jun 18



Balik Chek Jawa 2018
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

July 2018 sampling events for NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

7 Jul (Sat): Seringat Trail kayaking with Kayakasia
Celebrating Singapore Shores!


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Man fined S$3,500 for importing a live tortoise

Channel NewsAsia 20 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: A 40-year-old man was fined S$3,500 on Wednesday (Jun 20) for the illegal importation of a Greek tortoise into Singapore.

The animal is a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and a permit is required for any import, export and re-export of CITES-listed species in Singapore.

The live tortoise was found in a plastic container that was concealed in the rear left compartment of a Singapore-registered vehicle, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a joint media release on Wednesday.

ICA found the tortoise following checks at Woodlands Checkpoint. AVA, who was alerted on Feb 9, said investigations revealed that the man, Ong Yi Chao, did not have a valid permit to import the tortoise.

The tortoise is currently under the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

"The ICA and AVA would like to remind travellers against bringing live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit," they said.

Offenders can be fined up to S$50,000 per species and/or jailed up to two years.

Source: CNA/na


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Locally grown strawberries a first for Singapore's farming industry

Wendy Wong Channel NewsAsia 20 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: It was once an unthinkable feat - growing non-native temperate produce on Singapore soil. But a local urban farm has managed to do just that - growing strawberries, with the help of technology in a controlled hydroponics environment.

"We manipulate the environment to enhance the flavour profiles of our products, even down to the nutrients that run in the water," said Benjamin Swan, co-founder of Sustenir Agriculture.

"So even though it took two months to get the (strawberries) up, we spent the better part of six months understanding how we can best optimise the growth footprints we have to make the products the best we can be ... by controlling the environment."

Strawberries are the latest fruits of the vertical farm's labour, with other temperate produce in its basket including kale and arugula. The vertical farm also has plans to explore innovations in agriculture, by setting up a research and development lab in startup complex JTC LaunchPad @ one-north.

In a visit to the 1,000 sq ft facility on Wednesday (Jun 20), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said the Government would continue supporting urban farmers in co-developing solutions with industry players, in light of challenges faced by the urban farmers.

"The industry gave feedback that they have two challenges. One is that there is a lack of plug-and-play, cost-effective solutions for automation they can use quite quickly," said Dr Koh. "The second challenge they face is that they may need to have more understanding of science of certain niche crop types they can grow in an indoor environment."

"Urban farming as a movement is still fairly new globally. Therefore some of these solutions may not be readily available off the shelf," Dr Koh said. "But we do see a lot of solution providers innovating solutions that can be adoptable."

"They being here in LaunchPad – where a lot of innovation and entrepreneurs are – this can be a place to catalyse cocreation of solutions. And I think that would not just meet needs, but create an entirely new pillar of exportable technology for our local companies as well," Dr Koh said.

He cited the example of Sustenir Agriculture, which partnered with robotic solutions company PBA Hanhwa Robotics to devise a robotic arm for its seeding and transplanting process.

The farm is exploring the use of robotic arms to help in its seeding and transplanting process, with the robots able to take on the workload of eight personnel, according to Mr Swan. (Photo: Wendy Wong)

Dr Koh added that the Government would continue to encourage collaboration between farmers and institutes of higher learning. "The NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) is already working with some of our industry to better understand the science behind growing niche crop varieties, and to look at agrotech they can co-develop together to meet those challenges."

The vertical farm, which is expanding into Hong Kong in the third quarter of 2018, is also looking at growing "indoor grapes" – and eventually even harvesting "made in Singapore" wine among others.

"All strawberries need to be pollinated – typically that happens with bees outdoors," said Mr Swan. "What we do right now is that we do it by hand with a forensic brush. It’s a little bit laborious and we don’t get 100 per cent success. But we are exploring bringing in bees to the room, which means we could have 100 per cent clean honey as well."

Source: CNA/na


Coming to a supermarket near you: Made-in-Singapore strawberries
VICTOR LOH Today Online 20 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE — Ideally suited for a cooler climate with temperatures between 16°C and 27°C, strawberries are hard to grow here — until now.

In what is touted as a first in the country and the region, a Singapore start-up Sustenir has managed to produce strawberries on a commercial scale, in a controlled indoor environment.

Buoyed by its success, the enterprise has set its sights on made-in-Singapore grapes and even wine.

Speaking at the launch of its research and development lab at JTC Launchpad in one-north on Wednesday (June 20), Mr Benjamin Swan, 37, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sustenir, said: "The sky is the limit to this because, effectively, we can grow anything indoors."

The strawberries are now sold at selected Cold Storage supermarkets and online grocer RedMart at S$12 for a 200g packet, and Mr Swan said that there may be plans to sell them at more shops in the heartlands.

The fruit is produced using patented technology, which allows Sustenir to maximise its output in land-scarce Singapore, to grow more with less.

For example, a traditional farm can grow an average of 140 tonnes of leafy greens in one hectare of land, but Sustenir can produce 2,100 tonnes in the same space using 95 per cent less water.

A typical farm also takes about seven to eight weeks to grow strawberries from the plant stem using regular farming methods, but Sustenir can do so in under six weeks.

Its vertical farm at Sembawang — which is certified under the food safety management systems scheme, ISO 22000 — has been cultivating other non-native vegetables such as kale and arugula (rocket) since 2014, and can now produce about 800kg of strawberries monthly all year round. Plans are afoot to double the size of its 54sqm strawberry farm.

Mr Swan, a former UOB and Citibank banker before he co-founded Sustenir, said that because its products are cultivated in "perfectly clean conditions that are free from pesticides, contaminated soil and any form of haze or air pollution from outside", there is no need to wash its fruits and vegetables before consumption, and they can last for two weeks when refrigerated.

While the firm took just two months to research and cultivate its first batch of strawberries, but pollination — which usually happens with bees outdoors — was a challenge.

Pollination is now done manually, but the company is looking to introduce bees indoors, and perhaps from there, even create "100 per cent clean honey", Mr Swan said.

He stressed that Sustenir is not out to compete with Singapore farmers for staple vegetables and fruits. "We can grow bok choy and so forth locally, but do we want to grow (bok choy) here indoors or outdoors? Of course not. What we are doing is focusing on imported products."

It is this same imported-produce-first strategy that Sustenir is taking to Hong Kong, where it will open a vertical farm in the third quarter of this year.

He added: "We are going as far as the more medicinal products. Take TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). We are working with NUS (National University of Singapore), for example, so that we can extract the enzymes out of (nutrient-rich) kale, a superfood to help with (the well-being of) cancer patients."

POTENTIAL FOR MASS-MARKET PRODUCE

On Wednesday, Sustenir also launched the sale of its strawberries at Cold Storage's new one-north outlet.

When asked about the S$12-per-200g price of its strawberries, Mr Swan said that they are "very competitive" compared with the South Korean varieties, for instance.

An online site sells strawberries from South Korea for S$11.60 per 330g box, while a 250g box of strawberries from the United States costs S$6.50 at Cold Storage.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, who was present at the launch event, was asked if urban farmers are limited to producing just high-value fruits and vegetables.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon (left) with Sustenir Agriculture's CEO Benjamin Swan looking at home-grown strawberries at Sustenir's Research and Development facility. Photo: Chng Shao Kai/TODAY

He noted that the technology has the potential for other common vegetables such as bok choy to be grown locally for commercial use.

"Strawberries is one of those varieties that we would not have imagined possible growing in Singapore. But for a controlled environment, by manipulating the growth conditions, we see that strawberries are now possible.

"If you know how to grow strawberries in an indoor environment, you know how to manipulate conditions, I think it will not take a big leap for (urban farmers) to switch to more mass-market vegetables like bok choy, for example," Dr Koh said.

"It's only left to our imagination to see how (urban farmers) can capitalise on this to do more with less and get ourselves more fruits, and be self-sufficient."


Strawberries grown in Singapore vertical farm make debut
Low De Wei Straits Times 20 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - Strawberries grown in a vertical farm in Singapore - and available all year round - are being sold at selected supermarkets.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who took a look at Singapore's first commercially-grown local strawberries on Wednesday (June 20), said government agencies will need to see how best they can change rules to assist vertical farms here.

This means that agencies may need to be flexible, and liberalise regulations, to accommodate the needs of such firms here, he added.

Acknowledging the challenges that the vertical farm industry faces here, Dr Koh said that one solution was for commercial companies, universities and firms with research and development (R&D) expertise to work together with urban farmers. The Government will explore how clustering can be applied in this industry as well, like siting vertical farms with other businesses they can leverage for expertise, he added.

He accepted that finding spaces here for vertical farms was a challenge and said that the Government would see what more it could do to assist farmers who identify areas and buildings that they are keen to set up facilities in.

Dr Koh was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to the R&D laboratory of local vertical farming company, Sustenir Agriculture, at one-north.

Sustenir's researchers had successfully cultivated strawberry plants in the lab, and the fruit has since been grown in Sustenir's vertical farm.

The strawberries are being sold at selected Cold Storage outlets at $12 a punnet.

Most vertical farm companies, such as Sustenir, currently grow vegetables like kale and other salad vegetables for sale in the local market. The latest addition to this plate are home-grown strawberries.

Dr Koh said that the technology used to grow high-value crops like strawberries can also support Singapore's food security requirements in times of need.

"The idea is to develop the know-how and have the technology mature so that in a time of need, you can easily switch over to different plant types (to grow in vertical farms)," he said.

Figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) show that there were 26 indoor vertical farms here as at the end of April. In 2016, there were just six such farms.

More players need to be willing to adopt such business models even as the Government reaches out to them, Dr Koh said.

As the urban farming landscape matures in Singapore, the Government will also seek to engage residents.

Citing the example of the new town of Tengah, which features "community farmways", Dr Koh said the Government is exploring how to incorporate more urban community farming into newer housing estates.

While AVA figures show that the number of commercial rooftop farms here remained at one as of end-April, with no new additions in the past two years, Dr Koh said the Government will continue to look at how rooftop spaces like those at multi-storey carparks can be adapted for producing edible food.

"As we explore this space, and as interest grows, we will be able to do something more concrete," he said.

Berry fresh prospects for vertical farming
Govt agencies may have to ease rules to let sector flourish, says senior minister of state
Low De Wei Straits Times 21 Jun 18;

Now in selected supermarkets near you: Strawberries grown in a Singapore vertical farm.

On the sidelines of a visit to an R&D laboratory belonging to Sus-tenir Agriculture, which developed a method to grow strawberries here, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said government agencies will need to see how best they can change rules to assist vertical farms.

This means agencies may need to be flexible, and liberalise regulations, to accommodate the needs of such firms, he added yesterday.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by the vertical farm industry, Dr Koh said one solution the Government will explore is to locate such farms near commercial companies, universities and R&D firms.

He explained that having such "clusters" will let urban farmers leverage on expertise in other areas to devise cost-effective technological solutions. He also acknowledged that finding spaces for vertical farms was a challenge, and said the Government would see what more it can do to help farmers who identify areas and buildings they are keen to set up facilities in.

Mr James Liu, co-founder of vertical farming company SING.Fresh, is one such farmer who had to grapple with the "significant challenge" of getting approval from various agencies for the use of unused spaces, which he said is hindered by land usage policies.

Higher location costs for vertical farming would also mean higher costs for consumers, he said.

Most vertical farm companies grow high-value greens like kale and other salad vegetables that can be sold at more competitive prices compared to imported varieties.

Asked about the rationale for growing such crops, co-founder and chief executive of Sustenir Agriculture Benjamin Swan said this was to avoid competing against lower-cost greens like bok choy.

Dr Koh said the know-how gained from growing high-value crops like strawberries can still contribute to supporting Singapore's food security in times of need.

Figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) show there were 26 commercial indoor vertical farms as of end-April this year. In 2016, there were six such farms.

Still, more players need to be willing to adopt such business models even as the Government reaches out to them, Dr Koh said.

And as the urban farming landscape matures, the Government will also seek to engage residents. Dr Koh said the Government is exploring how to incorporate more urban community farming into newer housing estates.

AVA figures show there was only one commercial rooftop vertical farm as of end-April.

A spokesman for the Ministry of National Development, when asked about its policy on rooftop farming, said it adopts "a facilitative approach". "We will continue to push for innovative projects to optimise our land use and grow the urban farming movement," the spokesman added.

Asked if the Government can do more, Dr Koh said it will continue to look at how rooftop spaces like those on multi-storey carparks can be adapted for producing edible food.

"As we explore this space, and as interest grows, we will be able to do something more concrete," he said.


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Malaysia: "Ghost nets" destroying life within Sabah's marine park

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 20 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Ghost nets have been wrapping themselves around coral reefs, trapping and killing hundreds of marine life daily within Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a popular tourism spot and dive site off here.

Over the years, concerned divers have taken their own initiative to remove fishing nets caught in coral reefs within the protected marine park covering five islands – Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik, and Sulug.

Despite their efforts in protecting the marine life and highlighting the matter to relevant authorities, ghost nets continue to creep into TARP and become threats to the coral reef and marine life.

Divemaster Jude Junius said tourism activities may collapse if illegal fishing and the dumping of nets within TARP off here persist without effective and proper monitoring from relevant authorities.

“Our reefs are being threatened at a very alarming rate and it will die off if this continues.

“We are doing our part but there is little we can do. Sabah Parks and the fisheries department need to take heed of this problem.

Fishing trap set up by irresponsible individuals within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Kota Kinabalu. Photo Courtesy of Jude Junius.
“We have stumbled upon 100m to 300m long fishing nets caught on reefs. The 300m net is worse because it means leisure divers can see them throughout the whole dive.

“We boast of Sabah being rich in marine biodiversity, but this situation makes the diving industry look bad especially when a diver has just been certified and is looking forward to experience underwater adventure,” he said.

Diver removes a fishing trap found within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Kota Kinabalu. Photo Courtesy of Jude Junius.
Jude also pointed out fishing traps found hidden between reefs as a method to catch fish by irresponsible individuals, and questioned the point of having a conservation fee paid to Sabah Parks.

Since last month, concerned divers had discovered more than 13 ghost nets. Jude noted Gaya Island marine conservation and dive operators namely Borneo Dream, Diverse Borneo, and Land Below The Wind sponsored them the boats and diving gear for the cleanup initiative.

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks TARP manager Anthony Tinggi said the parks relied on information from divers and the exact coordinates, so it would be easy for their team to act on complains with regards fishing nets.

“We have five divers in our marine unit and our team has also removed ghost nets during their dives. I agree we cannot work in silo to tackle the problem and we need to have a strong cooperation from the diving fraternity,” he said.

Fishing trap set up by irresponsible individuals within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Kota Kinabalu. Photo Courtesy of Jude Junius.
He noted that Jude has come to see him to discuss on cooperation, adding TARP management assisted in providing boats and manpower to help in the removal of ghost nets.

“However, we stopped (providing boats) for a while as our divers and boatmen were fasting during the Ramadan. We will nonetheless continue to assist them. I am also looking into establishing a Honorary Ranger.

“We have informed the matter to Sabah Parks director (Dr Jamili Nais) and I am in the midst of preparing the proposal paper to be presented to the top management,” he said.

On the origin of the ghost nets, Tinggi however believed the fishing nets were not being dropped intentionally in TARP but had drifted from outside the park’s boundary.

Diver removing fishing nets with marine life trapped in it within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park off Kota Kinabalu. Photo Courtesy of Jude Junius.
Having said that, he stressed that Sabah Parks continues to conduct patrols around TARP, including in the wee hours when fishermen were believed to conduct illegal fishing activities.

“However, we have never come across fishermen or fishing boats within the marine park,” he added.


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