Malaysia: ‘Red tide’ phenomenon believed to be cause of mass fish deaths - Department of Environment

The Star 17 Feb 14;

JOHOR BARU: Last Thursday's mass fish deaths, including those farmed in sea cages off Tanjung Kupang, are believed to have been caused by the 'red tide' phenomenon.

The Department of Environment (DOE), in a statement on Sunday said the phenomenon was caused by excessive plankton resulting in reduced oxygen in the water.

It said DOE, which conducted preliminary investigation on the day of the incident, found no contaminant or oil spill near the venue.

"A similar incident also occurred on Dec 28, 2009. Nevertheless, DOE will continue to monitor and take enforcement measures on the premises in Gelang Patah," said the statement.

It also said the Johor Fisheries Department had been referred to identify the exact cause of the fish deaths through the analysis of fish samples.

Meanwhile, Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) denied that offshore land reclamation work conducted by the company had caused the death of an estimated four tonnes of fish.

Its executive deputy chairman, Datuk Md Yusof Othman said the reported fish deaths were not just happening in the reclaimed areas but also in Singapore.

According to him, the reclamation work began on Jan 22, involving a 0.4 hectare area.

"If the fish were dying due to reclamation work, why are they only dying now and not a day or two after we started work?" he asked.

The incident has affected 10 fish farms and 250 traditional fishermen. - Bernama

DOE looking into mass fish deaths
yee xiang yun and kathleen ann kili The Star 17 Feb 14;

JOHOR BARU: The department of environment (DOE) is carrying out a study to find the cause of the massive fish deaths in the waters off Tanjung Kupang, near here.

The deaths occurred about 3km from a land reclamation project but the department said no industrial pollution or oil spillage were detected in the waters.

“The deaths could be due to the red tide phenomenon or change in weather, which causes an overgrowth in plankton, resulting in the lack of oxygen in the water,” a DOE spokesman said yesterday.

“Red tide” is a common term used for a harmful algal bloom, or HAB, which occurs when colonies of algae grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, marine life, animals and birds.

It was reported on Friday that at least 10 fish farms and 250 traditional fishermen were affected by the death of the fishes, initially believed to be due to the off-shore land reclamation works.

The state government said it is also investigating the incidents.

Mohd Khairi Malik, the political secretary to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, said the state government expects to receive a report within this week from the Environmental Investi­gation Agency, the organisation committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime.

“The state government will halt the project if it is causing the fish deaths,” he said.

Meanwhile, state-owned Kum­pulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Bhd denied the mass fish death was caused by the nearby reclamation works.

KPRJ executive vice-chairman Datuk Md Othman Yusof said the project, which began on Jan 22, had followed all regulations set by the DOE and that the department would conduct checks from time to time to ensure they (the developers) stick to regulations.

Kit Siang urged to be more professional in solving people's problem
New Straits Times 27 Feb 14;

JOHOR BAHARU: Gelang Patah member of parliament Lim Kit Siang has been urged to be more professional in solving the problems of the people, without favouring race and religion so that they might get their due justice.
MCA Complaints and Public Service bureau head Jason Teoh Sew Hock claimed that Lim did not defend the fate of 48 fish and clam breeders at the Tanjung Kupang waters and in fact blamed the state government for causing the fish and clams to die.

"Even though he has visited the area twice, up till now, he has not done anything except blame the state government for the reclamation and sand mining activities in the area," he told reporters here today.

He also said on the second visit on Feb 24, the Gelang Patah MP only invited the Chinese press to go with him.

"He also claimed that the fishermen's income had dropped from RM10,000 a month to RM3,000 since the reclamation works began.

"The fishermen in this area have never earned that much income because they are small fishermen and can only earn about RM80 to RM150 a day," he said.

Fish and clam trader Abdullah Zaidi, who had been in the business for 11 years in Tanjung Kupang, concurred with his statement.

The death of fish resulting from the red tide phenomenon in Tanjung Kupang on Feb 12 had caused 48 fish and clam breeders in the area to suffer losses amounting to RM5.5 million. -- BERNAMA