Best of our wild blogs: 10 Jan 14

Interpretation of Red Junglefowl Crow And Its Sound Analysis from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Republic Poly opens aquaculture centre

Nur Isyana Isaman and Shahidah Adriana Channel NewsAsia 9 Jan 14;

SINGAPORE: Republic Polytechnic has opened an aquaculture centre, the first of its kind at a polytechnic in Singapore.

The Aquaria, as it is called, is a technologically-advanced learning facility for students in the new Diploma in Marine Science and Aquaculture course, where they will conduct research in outdoor and indoor laboratories.

The centre will also support research in marine science and aquaculture technologies, supporting Singapore's goal to boost the local food fish production.

Three agreements were also signed with industry partners to conduct collaborations on research projects and student internships.

Ashley Chua, deputy director of School of Applied Science at Republic Polytechnic, said: "We also have a long, 16-week internship programme where they (the students) will be sent out to the farms to be exposed to farm operations."

Minister of State for National Development Dr Maliki Osman said: "The new course -- the Marine Science and Aquaculture course -- is a move in the right direction. We are supportive of this because it meets the needs of the country. It provides opportunities for the industry to work with educational institutions like Republic Poly to develop R&D (research and development) capabilities."

- CNA/gn

Aquaculture centre opens at Republic Poly
Today Online 10 Jan 14;

SINGAPORE — An aquaculture centre has opened for Republic Polytechnic students in its new Marine Science and Aquaculture diploma programme, which aims to take in 50 students this year.

The centre will conduct research in areas such as fish-feed formulation and identifying more cost-effective fish-health management methods in aquaculture facilities.

The Government aims to increase the local production of fish from about 7 per cent to 15 per cent of local consumption. Approximately half the fish and shellfish consumed around the world are produced through aquaculture, also known as aquafarming.

The 180-sq-m facility on the polytechnic’s premises has five outdoor circular fibreglass tanks for a wide array of fresh and saltwater fishes. It also has 48 experimental tanks indoors with ultraviolet light and temperature-control capabilities for sea and freshwater teleost and crustaceans, as well as another tank for coral conservation studies and research.

Polytechnic Principal and Chief Executive Officer Yeo Li Pheow said: “It is important to ensure that our students are kept abreast of modern aquaculture technologies so that they can act as conduits, translating advanced techniques and technologies into the industry, thus accelerating the growth of our local aquaculture industry.

Speaking at the launch event yesterday, guest of honour Maliki Osman, who is Minister of State for National Development, said the government is supportive of the new diploma course because it meets the needs of the country.

“It provides opportunities for the industry to work with educational institutions such as Republic Polytechnic to develop research and development capabilities,” he said.

Three agreements were also signed with industry partners to conduct collaborations on research projects and student internships.

Mr Ashley Chua, Deputy Director of the School of Applied Science at the polytechnic, said: “We also have a long 16-week internship programme where (the students) will be sent to the farms to be exposed to farm operations.” Nur Isyana Isaman and Shahidah Adriana

Speech by MOS Maliki Osman at the opening ceremony of Republic Polytechnic Aquaculture Centre
Ministry of National Development 9 Jan 14;

1 It is my pleasure to be here this morning at the opening of The Aquaria, Republic Polytechnic’s Aquaculture Centre.

2 Today is also Republic Polytechnic’s Open House 2014, which will showcase a new Diploma in Marine Science and Aquaculture. I believe these new developments will help support, nurture and grow Singapore’s aquaculture industry.

Ensuring food supply resilience
3 Singapore imports more than 90% of its food supply. Hence, our key strategy to ensure our food supply resilience is to diversify our overseas sources of food. We import various food items, be they fresh, chilled or frozen, from more than 100 countries. In the case of food fish, we import from more than 60 countries, and as far as Norway.

4 At the same time, we complement our source diversification strategy by locally producing key food items, namely, leafy vegetables, food fish and eggs. As we are not an agricultural country, and with limited land for farming, local production is expectantly on a small scale. Nevertheless, during supply disruptions, our local produce can help meet our local demand to some extent.

5 Today, our consumption of live and chilled fish is 52,000 tonnes, of which 3,200 tonnes, or 6% of the total fish consumption is produced by our food fish farming industry. The rest is imported.

6 Currently, our local supply comes mainly from coastal fish farms in north-east and north-west of Singapore. They produce marine food fish species like seabass, grouper, and snapper as well as green mussel and crustacean. There are also freshwater food fish farms producing tilapia, snakehead, catfish and carp. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has set a target of 15% of fish to be produced locally. At the farm level, there is also a minimum production level of 17 tonnes of fish per half-hectare space per year

Challenges ahead

7 To meet these ambitious targets of increasing local food fish production, our local fish farming industry faces significant challenges. For a start, both land and sea space for farming is limited in Singapore due to many other competing uses such as housing, industry, defence, transport, port and maritime activities. The farms also face a shortage of manpower, and in particular, there are not many Singaporeans who are keen to work in this sector. Third and not the least, there are also high risks of fish and seafood related disease outbreaks at the farms, especially in the coastal fish farms.

8 To address these challenges, AVA is actively collaborating with various stakeholders, namely, the farms, educational and research institutions. Let me briefly elaborate three broad areas.

9 First, there is scope for more research and development (R&D) in the field of aquaculture. In 2003, AVA set up its Marine Aquaculture Centre to develop and harness technology to facilitate the development and expansion of large-scale hatchery and fish farming production in Singapore and the region. AVA’s Aquaculture Centre, in collaboration with Rong-Yao Fisheries Pte Ltd, was successful in spawning pompano, or golden pomfret, fry in tropical waters on a commercially viable scale. I visited the Rong-Yao Fisheries facilities recently and was very impressed at their clear vision and passion to succeed in this field. I encourage companies to also invest in aquaculture R&D. There are many areas of research focus, including stock enhancement, selective breeding for faster growth or disease resistance, fish nutrition and feeding. Such R&D will help boost our local food fish production.

10 Second, we must take bold steps to boost the productivity of our fish farms. To this end, AVA has been working closely with fish farmers to develop farm productivity improvement plans, conducting R&D and technology transfer, and advising them on good farm management practices like fish health and feed management protocols. Farmers are encouraged to leverage on AVA’s Food Fund, which is now in its third tranche of $10 million. The Fund supports R&D of farming technology with direct practical industry application, so as to maximise local farm productivity to help ensure food supply resilience. For example, one fish farm off the coast of Lim Chu Kang tapped on the Food Fund to purchase a water quality monitoring system that can monitor the dissolved oxygen levels in the fish nets and alert the farmer through SMS when low levels are detected.

11 Third, we should aim towards attracting and nurturing more younger Singaporeans to join the sector. It is important to develop the manpower capability to help transform the industry and achieve higher productivity. I am glad that Republic Polytechnic supports and nurtures the aquaculture industry by training a pool of skilled professionals for the future. The polytechnic’s Aquaculture Centre as well as its new Diploma in Marine Science and Aquaculture offer an excellent opportunity to attract and train young Singaporeans. As the Principal and CEO of Republic Polytechnic has earlier mentioned, this new centre will not only train students, but also facilitate collaborative projects with Republic Polytechnic’s partners. The MOUs that Republic Polytechnic is signing with Temasek Lifesciences Laboratory (TLL), the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) and Resorts World Sentosa Marine Life Park (MLP) today, as well as the Joint Lab Agreement with James Cook University (JCU), will value add to the students’ learning experience by opening up more opportunities in areas such as internships, scholarships and industry related final-year projects. The staff exchanges and joint R&D projects will also forge closer ties with the players in this sector. The joint laboratory with James Cook University on marine research and conservation is a case in point. We must continuously develop new aquaculture technologies and ensure a sustained pipeline of skilled manpower to support the growth of the sector.

12 AVA also supports the industry in capability development. I understand that there are currently two students from Republic Polytechnic on internship at AVA who are involved in projects to study parasites in locally farmed food fish as well as feed nutrition for guppy growth and maturity. I am confident that their project findings would come in handy for the industry.

13 Let me conclude by saying that for Singapore’s food security, ensuring a sustainable supply of food for Singaporeans, all of us – the industry, educational and research institutions, and the Government – must work hand-in-hand to raise farm productivity with more R&D and technology adoption. Each of us cannot achieve this on our own. I look forward to greater collaboration amongst all the stakeholders in the years ahead.

14 On this note, let me congratulate Republic Polytechnic on the opening of the new Aquaculture Centre and launching the new Diploma in Marine Science and Aquaculture. I look forward to seeing your graduates infuse new and exciting ideas and innovation into the aquaculture industry. All the very best. Thank you.

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Malaysia: Carcass identified as that of pilot whale

New Straits Times 10 Jan 14;

KUCHING: The carcass of a sea creature that washed ashore at Pasir Panjang in Santubong two weeks ago has been identified as a short-finned pilot whale (globicephalamacrohynchus).

Sarawak Forestry managing director Datuk Ali Yusop said they had confirmed with the National Task Force for Marine Mammal Stranding Network that this was the first discovery of a short-finned pilot whale here.

"The discovery marks the 16th species of marine mammals found in Sarawak."
Earlier, the 3m-long carcass was misidentified as a Bryde's whale (balaenopteraeden) because of the poor-resolution photographs.

The correct identification was made after an examination on the skull by experts from Sarawak Forestry, as well as the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

"The species identification was based on the presence of tooth sockets on the upper rostrum of the skull and the number of socket counts.

"The pronounced tooth sockets and wear-and-tear on the rostrum indicate that it was an adult whale," Ali said, adding that the short-finned pilot whale was a marine mammal commonly found in tropical marine waters.

"Although the carcass was too decomposed to determine the cause of death, accidental entanglement in fishing gear is one of the main human-related causes of mortality in marine mammals worldwide."

Ali said they had also examined carcasses of finless porpoises and Irrawaddy dolphins that were trapped in fishing gear here.

"It is important that fishermen know how to respond when they find dolphins trapped in their nets."

All marine mammals are listed as totally protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998. The local community, especially those living near water bodies, plays an important role in ensuring the safety of marine mammals.

The Marine Mammals Stranding Network, launched in Sarawak last October, is aimed at providing quick and effective response to rescue stranded or trapped marine mammals and carrying out research on the causes of marine mammal stranding. The task force is also responsible for enhancing public awareness about marine mammal conservation.

The final four of the total 11 Marine Mammal Rescue Zones in Malaysia have been assigned to Sarawak, namely Zone 8 (Kuching, Samarahan and SriAman); Zone 9 (Sibu, Sarikei, Betong and Mukah); Zone 10 (Bintulu and Kapit); and Zone 11 (Miri and Limbang).

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Indonesia: Aceh Court Orders Palm Oil Firm to Pay for Environmental Damage

Nurdin Hasan Jakarta Globe 9 Jan 14;

A court in the Aceh district of Meulaboh has declared palm oil company Kalista Alam guilty of clearing Rawa Tripa peat forests in Aceh by burning land.

“Based on trial evidence, we declare PT Kalista Alam guilty of having burned peatlands in Rawa Trip forest, which has caused environmental damages,” chief judge Rahmawati said, during a seven-hour reading of the verdict that ended on Wednesday night.

The Meulaboh District Court also ordered for the confiscation of 5,769-hectare land run by Kalista Alam in Aceh, and for the company to pay fines and restoration fees.

“We order PT Kalista Alam to compensate material losses worth Rp 114 billion ($9.45 million) and pay environment restoration fees totaling Rp 251 billion.”

The ruling also sets a Rp 5 million daily fine for each day the company delays paying the compensation and restoration costs.

The panel of judges at the court rejected all the company’s defense arguments. They said Kalista Alam’s activities in Rawa Tripa destroyed as many as 1,000 hectares of land in the peat forest, more specifically the sections situated in Darul Makmur subdistrict in the Aceh district of Nagan Raya.

The civic lawsuit was filed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment in 2012, following intense protests from environmental activists against the company’s activities in the peatland forest.

The ministry originally demanded that Kalista Alam pay Rp 300 billion in compensation.

The Banda Aceh Administrative Court in May last year ruled in favor of Kalista Alam in its lawsuit against the Aceh governor’s revocation of its permit to clear and operate on a 1,605-hectare land in Rawa Tripa, a forest and peatland region in the province’s Nagan Raya district.

Kalista Alam obtained the permit to open the plantation from then-Governor Irwandi Yusuf in August, 2011. But the governor’s decision was met with protests by environmental activists who said that the area was the habitat of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and other rare animals.

The Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) attempted to drag the governor to the Aceh state administrative court, but the court rejected Walhi’s suit on April 3, 2012. Walhi then appealed the ruling to the Medan High Court. On Aug. 30, 2012, the Medan High Court ordered the governor, now Zainal Abdullah, who was elected in April 2012, to revoke the permit.

Kalista Alam’s lawyer, Alfian C. Sarumaha, told journalists after the hearing that his client would appeal the case.

“The judges [based the verdict] merely on several samples, and didn’t examine all the 1,000-hectare land allegedly [destroyed],” he said.

Kalista earlier argued that its burning of land in Rawa Tripa was already in line with existing regulations.

A director of Kalista Alam, identified only as S. R., and a subordinate are standing a separate trial in the same court in Meulaboh over a criminal lawsuit concerning the same case.

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Preserve Malay cemetery as green lung

Sutari Supari Straits Times Forum 9 Jan 14;

THE Malay cemetery in Jalan Kubor should be preserved because of its historical significance and ecological value (“NHB project to document Malay cemetery”; last Saturday).

The 33,900 sq m plot dates back to the 1800s and is the oldest Malay cemetery here.

It is the resting place of notable personalities and community leaders such as Haji Ambok Sooloh and Syed Alwi Ali Aljunied, and the walled-up part of the compound is the Old Malay Royal Graveyard.

In March 2012, the Nature Society (Singapore) and some others conducted a bird and plant survey at the cemetery, and found the site to be rich in plant, insect and avian life.

Of particular interest was a huge fig tree. Its fruits attracted many birds such as the black-naped oriole, Asian glossy starling and golden-bellied gerygone. The uncommon oriental magpie-robin was also spotted.

The cemetery forms a green lung and oasis amid the urban sprawl of Rochor/Kampung Glam, and I urge the Government to preserve it.

Sutari Supari

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