Corals at Semakau Landfill’s lagoon to be relocated to Sisters’ Island

Today Online 7 Jul 14;

Aerial view of Phase I and II of Semakau Landfill. Photo: National Environment Agency

SINGAPORE — The National Environment Agency (NEA) will be relocating more than 600 coral colonies at Semakau Landfill’s lagoon to Sisters’ Island, as it closes the existing gap at the southern tip of the lagoon to convert it into a new landfill cell.

This is part of Semakau Landfill’s Phase II development works to help meet the waste disposal needs of Singapore up to 2035 or beyond. Construction work to close the gap is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of this year and will be completed by the first quarter of 2015.

Calling for a tender today (July 7) for the coral relocation, the NEA said the relocation would take four months, with the first month dedicated to coral harvesting and the following three months for coral attachment at two recipient sites at Sisters’ Islands.

An independent coral reef survey of the Phase II lagoon, commissioned by the NEA and helmed by renowned marine biologist Chou Loke Ming, had recommended that 27 genera of corals be earmarked for transplantation, including several rare genera like Polyphyllia and Heliofungia. The findings were shared with the National Parks Board, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and nature groups.

The successful bidder will also need to conduct post-coral transplantation monitoring surveys, over a nine-month period, at the recipient sites to monitor the survival and health of the transplanted corals, said the NEA. The surveys will also monitor the water quality and sediment conditions at the recipient sites.

A contractor has been engaged to monitor the marine conditions and impact on the surrounding water before, during and after the construction period, added the NEA.

Said NEA Chief Executive Ronnie Tay: “The discovery of thriving coral colonies within the man-made lagoon is testament that the landfill operations have not affected the environment and marine habitats. NEA is mindful of these thriving natural habitats, and will carefully carry out the coral re-location exercise and the development works for Semakau Landfill Phase II.”