Fish farmers unclear where dead fish at Sungei Buloh are from

Kok Xing Hui Today Online 19 Apr 14;

SINGAPORE — Local fish farmers in the Western Johor Straits were puzzled as to where the scores of dead fish that had washed up at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Thursday came from, saying they had not heard about fish deaths at other farms.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has said it did not detect a plankton bloom, which was cited as a possible reason for wiping out 160 tonnes of fish from local fish farms on both the Western and Eastern Johor Straits in February.

Yesterday, a fish farm owner who identified himself only as Mr Chia, said the deaths could be due to issues with the water. He explained that due to the nature of water flow, problems at one spot might not necessarily affect the entire area.

Responding to queries, the AVA said water near Singapore’s coastal fish farms is regularly sampled as part of routine surveillance by the authority. “Currently, no abnormalities have been detected at our coastal fish farms. AVA will continue to monitor closely.”

When TODAY visited the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve yesterday, a small number of dead fish were still spotted, although the National Parks Board had carried out a clean-up on Thursday. The waters were littered with styrofoam, plastic bottles and other debris — something birdwatcher Robin Sim said was not always the case. “Usually, there are just a few (pieces of rubbish),” he said. “But it’s hard to control, (as the water) does lead to the open sea.” KOK XING HUI

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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Apr 14

Kang Ting from RGS writes about her guiding experience at Venus Loop from Toddycats!

A Two Pierid Weekend
from Butterflies of Singapore

Morning Walk At Lower Pierce Reservoir (18 Apr 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot at the nesting hole
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Indonesia: Satellite detects 44 hotspots in Sumatra

Antara 18 Apr 14;

Pekanbaru, Riau Province (ANTARA News) - The Terra and Aqua Satellites have detected 40 hotspots located in Sumatra Island, which were mostly found in Riau Province that had reached 20 areas.

According to the Riau Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency received here on Friday, the total hotspots that are found in Riau have increased 100 percent.

The agency noted that the hotspots are spread across eight districts and cities of Riau Province, which are mostly located in Dumai city and has reached five sites.

The satellite noted three of the five hotspots in Dumai city including Pelintung Village of Medang Kampai Sub-district, Basilam Baru Village of Sungai Sembilan Sub-district and Gurun Panjang VIllage of Bukit Kapur Sub-district.

The mitigation agency also discovered three hotspots located in Bengkalis District such as in Rupat, Bukit Batu and Siak Kecil. Hotspots were also found in Rokan Hilir District in two areas in Kubu Sub-districts and Rimba Melintang Sub-district.

The satellite also found two hotspots each in Pelalawan, Siak and Rokan Hulu area.

Meanwhile, the agency also found a hotspot in Kampar and Kuantan Singingi District.

The Chief of the agency in Riau Saiq Saqlul Amri stated that the increasing hotspots in Riau are due to the dry season in last several days.

However, the NOAA 18 Satellite of US on Thursday has noted two hotspots in Riau Province and six in other areas of Sumatra.

The agency reported that the hotspots are a trigger from forest fires in Sumatra during the last several months that had caused the haze disaster in Riau Province.



Editor: Suryanto

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Supply of bananas secure amid fears of disease: AVA

Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 19 Apr 14;

SINGAPORE - Singapore's fresh banana supply is stable, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has said in response to global concerns that a lethal banana-plant disease has spread from Asia to the Middle East and Africa.

A spokesman for the AVA said Singapore imports its fresh bananas from various places such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

Worries about the supply of the popular fruit have risen after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Monday that the Panama disease had spread from Asia to Mozambique and Jordan. FAO plant pathologist Fazil Dusunceli said countries had to act now to avoid the "massive destruction of much of the world's banana crop".

The fungal infection, which is lethal to banana plants, has caused losses to crops in Indonesia, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia since the 1990s.

It is transmitted through the soil, first attacking a plant's roots before spreading through the plant. The disease prevents an infected plant from transporting water and nutrients to its parts, which causes it to wilt and die.

Infected plants are either unable to grow and bear fruit, or bear low-quality bananas that are stunted and not marketable.

The TR4 strain of the disease is one of the world's most destructive, and the popular Cavendish variety of banana is particularly vulnerable. It can survive in the soil for a long time, and if banana plants are re-planted in that soil, they, too, could be infected.

Most of the fresh bananas sold here are of the Cavendish variety, the AVA said.

The Cavendish and many other commercial variants are seedless clones unable to evolve resistance against diseases, which evolve faster than new fungicides can be developed.

So researchers around the world are working to develop new varieties that can withstand the disease, and protect the genetic diversity of bananas for a reserve of genetic material.

Bananas are the fourth most important food crop for the world's least developed countries, said the FAO.

According to data from the United Nations Comtrade database, Singapore's imports of fresh and dried bananas including plantains have risen slightly over the last decade.

In 2012, the last year for which figures are available, Singapore imported 44,592 tonnes of bananas and exported about 263 tonnes. This was 7 per cent more than the 41,585 tonnes it imported in 2011, of which a smaller amount - 166 tonnes - was exported, meaning Singapore is keeping more bananas for its own consumption.

The 2012 figures also represented a 27 per cent rise from the 35,070 tonnes of bananas imported in 2004, of which 229 tonnes were exported.
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'Johor won't budge on Friendship Bridge'

SIM BAK HENG New Straits Times 19 Apr 14;

LOOKING BEYOND: Current situation different compared to 10 years ago

JOHOR BARU: THE state government will not harp on the Causeway and crooked bridge issues when arriving to any decisions pertaining to the construction of the Malaysia-Singapore Friendship Bridge.

This was because things had changed in the past 10 years and developments along the Johor Straits were unlike what it was a decade ago when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had just retired as the country's prime minister, said state Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He said robust development had taken place along the Johor Straits, stretching from Danga Bay to Senibong, which had been earmarked as an international waterfront zone.

Hasni said with the zone, the state government would not only look at Singaporeans when making any decisions, but other nationalities, coming in droves into Iskandar Malaysia, such as the Chinese nationals and Middle Easterners, who owned properties there.

"We cannot simply ignore the presence of so many foreigners who are staying and investing in Iskandar Malaysia.

"As far as the construction of the Friendship Bridge is concerned, we have to look beyond the Causeway issue but (also) the interests of those staying along the zone," he told the New Straits Times.

Dr Mahathir told reporters on Wednesday that the Causeway had to be removed if the Friendship Bridge project was to go ahead.

Although the exact location of the bridge has yet to be finalised, he argued that there was no longer any need for a causeway if the bridge was built.

Using exactly the same argument he pointed out about a decade ago, Dr Mahathir had said the Causeway prevented water from flowing underneath and people from moving around.

The Friendship Bridge was proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after the annual Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat in Putrajaya on April 7.

The New Straits Times had reported that the Friendship Bridge would compliment the role of the existing Causeway and not replace it.

It was also reported the bridge may not necessarily be above water, but could be in the form of an underwater tunnel as the concept was to link the two countries.

Hasni said the Friendship Bridge should be iconic enough to reflect the friendship between the two countries.

Read more: 'Johor won't budge on Friendship Bridge' - General - New Straits Times

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Malaysia: 'Dams will be depleted if water rationing ends'

BALQIS LIM New Straits Times 19 Apr 14;

RISKY: Consider repercussions of move, warns Awer president

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) said the water rationing exercise should not end, as it would deplete water levels in dams which are now almost at a critical level.

Association president S. Piarapakaran said water levels at dams in Selangor were slowly increasing, and if rationing was stopped now, the water levels could drop quite significantly and swiftly.

"Although we are not reducing much in terms of water consumption, if the authorities were to end water rationing, it would only use up more water from the dams.

"Any intention to stop water rationing would have a significant impact on consumers, especially when we are facing the possibility of a dry spell for the second round, beginning next month."

Piarapakaran was commenting on the Selangor state assembly's rejection on Thursday of an emergency motion to immediately end water rationing and start channelling water regularly to the people in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim had said the state could not instruct the rationing to end yet as there was not enough water in several dams in the state.

The motion was tabled by state opposition leader Datuk Mohd Shamsudin Lias, who had said the rationing was causing much inconvenience and suffering.

Piarapakaran said those who urged for the tabling of the emergency motion should check on the repercussions of such a proposal.

"We should look at the matter in a practical manner, instead of placing political pressure on it. We cannot be emotional.

"We need to look at the right way to solve the problem and move forward from this entire situation.

"Instead of making public over anger and frustration, they have to be careful with such a suggestion because rationing is done so that whatever water that is left in the dam may be used for a little while longer."

He said even if the state government approved for rationing to end, the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) would not agree to it as the situation at dams remained critical.

"The state government does not have power (to end the rationing) now because, eventually, it would have to go to SPAN first.

"As a technical regulator, SPAN will never give in to such pressure as it knows that to reverse the rationing, it will lead to a much worse scenario."

He added that focus should be on increasing water levels at dams.

Piarapakaran said the Sungai Selangor dam, which provides almost 60 per cent of raw water in the Klang Valley, recorded water levels of 37 per cent for the past two weeks, and it was now at 38 per cent capacity.

Meanwhile, Khalid's media officer, Tuan Nazuri Tuan Ismail, said the menteri besar's move to get a Thai company to conduct cloud seeding was made due to a lack of aircraft for the operation, starting next week,

He said a meeting on the matter would be held on Monday.

Read more: 'Dams will be depleted if water rationing ends' - General - New Straits Times

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