All fish farms affected by Johor oil spill can fully resume sales: AVA

Channel NewsAsia 15 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: The 12 fish farms that were affected by the massive oil spill in January have had their sales suspension fully lifted, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Wednesday (Mar 15).

"Fish, crustaceans and molluscs available in our market are safe for consumption," said AVA in an update on the matter.

Fish samples from the affected farms earlier passed the food safety evaluation, about two weeks after the oil spill which was caused by a collision on Jan 3 between two container vessels off Johor. It took longer, however, for the sales suspension to be lifted for molluscs as well as crustaceans like lobsters and crabs.

AVA said that since the oil spill, it has supported farmers in their clean-up efforts and regularly assessed the situation at coastal fish farms in the East Johor Strait. Samples of fish, crustaceans and molluscs were also taken from farms which were not directly affected by the spill, it added.

"The samples undergo a combination of sensory and chemical analyses to determine if the farmed aquaculture is safe for consumption," AVA said. It explained that samples are tested for the presence of petroleum and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of chemicals that can be found in crude or industry oil.

Tiberias Harvest was one of first farms to have their sales suspension for fish lifted. It had expressed concern over a prolonged interruption in supply in the lead-up to Chinese New Year but was able to resume business on Jan 13.

"We are grateful for AVA’s responsiveness to farmers’ feedback and needs, and also for the guidance and materials provided for protection and clean-up measures," said Raymond Sng, the owner of Tiberias Harvest.

The oil spill also affected an 800m stretch of Changi Beach, which had to be temporarily closed to the public, as well as Pasir Ris Beach and Punggol Beach.

- CNA/gs


Clean-up following January oil spill wraps up; sales suspension on 12 fish farms lifted

Today Online 15 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — All the 12 coastal fish farms hit by an oil spill in early January are now able to sell fish, crustaceans and mollusc again, after the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) lifted its suspension order on them.

In a statement on Wednesday (March 15), the AVA said that the farms along the East Johor Strait have completed cleanup operations, and it had worked closely with the farmers since the oil spill to ensure the food safety of the “farmed aquaculture”.

“Fish, crustaceans and molluscs available in our market are safe for consumption,” the authority said, adding that it regularly assessed the status of the oil spill at the farms and took samples of sea creatures from them for food-safety tests, including those not directly affected by the oil spill.

The samples undergo a combination of sensory and chemical analyses to determine if they are safe for consumption, the AVA said.

The sensory analysis determines if the sample is tainted with petroleum, while the chemical analysis determines if the sample is contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — a group of chemicals that can be found in crude or industry oil.

Mr Raymond Sng, owner of Tiberias Harvest Farm, one of those affected by the oil spill, said that he had been “very concerned” when the AVA suspended fish sales. While he supported the suspension order as a safety measure, he said that “a prolonged interruption in supply would badly affect restaurant customers and online consumers”.

“The AVA acted on our feedback and was able to help a number of farms, including ours, continue with sales earlier. This was based on the food-safety tests on our products, the extent of the oil spill impact and cleanup on our farm,” he said. “We are grateful for the AVA’s responsiveness to farmers’ feedback and needs, and also for the guidance and materials provided for protection and cleanup measures.”

The oil spill on Jan 3 was caused by a collision between two container vessels off Pasir Gudang port in Johor. Some 300 tonnes of oil gushed into the waters off Singapore, causing fish deaths and sparking a series of measures to protect nearby mangroves and reservoirs from contamination.

Oil-absorbent pads and canvas were given to 25 farmers near the oil-spill site to help protect their fish stock, and some farms reported that about 250kg of fish died.

The cleanup operations also took place at various places such as the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, while a stretch of Changi Beach was closed.


AVA fully lifts sales ban on 12 fish farms
Zhaki Abdullah and Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Mar 17;

All 12 fish farms in Singapore that were affected in January by an oil spill from Johor can now resume sale of their seafood, including fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said yesterday that clean-up operations at the farms along the East Johor Strait have been completed.

The AVA had earlier partially lifted the sales suspension for just fish but, by Tuesday, it gave the all-clear - two months after the oil spill first clogged Singapore's shores.

On Jan 3, two vessels collided in Johor waters and caused 300 tonnes of oil to spill into the East Johor Strait where the fish farms are.

AVA asked the farms to stop sales until food-safety evaluations were completed.

AVA took samples from fish farms there, including those not directly affected by the oil spill.

The samples underwent a combination of sensory and chemical analyses, to determine if the seafood was tainted with petroleum or if they were contaminated with chemicals that can be found in crude or industry oil.

Mr Timothy Ng, operations manager of 2 Jays, one of the affected farms, estimated that the sales suspension cost his farm $10,000. But he said he was glad that AVA helped with clean-up operations. "As for the stoppage of sales, I think it's okay, because I don't want to sell seafood that may be contaminated," he told The Straits Times.

Mr Raymond Sng, owner of another of the affected farms, Tiberias Harvest Farm, agreed. He said a prolonged interruption in supply could have badly affected restaurant customers, and online home consumers who pre-ordered fish for Chinese New Year.

But AVA acted on such feedback and a number of farms, including his, were allowed to resume operations earlier.

"We are grateful for AVA's responsiveness to farmers' feedback and needs, and also for the guidance and materials provided for protection and clean-up measures," said Mr Sng.

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