More dead fish, marine life at Pasir Ris beach

SIAU MING EN Today Online 2 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE — Following the mass fish deaths that affected farmers along the eastern Johor Straits over the weekend, other marine wildlife, including species such as Frogfish, horseshoe crab and puffer fish, have washed up on Pasir Ris beach.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said the post-mortem results of fish samples collected from the affected farms indicated the fish had died as a result of gill damage caused by plankton, which are micro-organisms found in seawater. They can bloom or multiply quickly in a very short time, draining the seawater of oxygen.

“Laboratory tests conducted so far did not detect marine biotoxins in the fish,” it said.

Local fish farmers said the fish deaths on Saturday morning were worse than those during a similar event that happened at around the same time last year.

Mr Teh Aik Hua, who owns two fish farms in Sembawang and Pasir Ris, said he is left with only 1 per cent of his fish stock, compared with a 20 per cent survival rate last year.

“The problem is more serious this year. Even wild fish were found dead,” he added.

With the recent hot and dry weather, which is expected to stretch into this month, Mr Teh said about 40 per cent of his fish stock at the Sembawang farm has also died from the increasing salinity of the water.

Another fish farmer, who only wanted to be known as Simon, painted a similar picture. Nearly all his fish were wiped out this time, whereas last year, half of his stock had survived.

Around this time last year, there were fish deaths at 34 fish farms along the East Johor Straits and five farms along the West Johor Straits. About 160 tonnes of fish were found dead because of low levels of dissolved oxygen in the waters or a plankton bloom, or both, as well as the hot weather.

In response to queries, the AVA said fish harvested from local farms are safe for consumption.

The largest supermarket chain here, NTUC FairPrice, also assuaged consumer concerns, saying it imports fish from local farms that are accredited by the AVA, which has taken steps to ensure only live and healthy fish are being supplied.

FairPrice, which has more than 120 outlets, said some of these fish farms, including those in Pasir Ris, Changi, Lim Chu Kang and inland Kranji, have taken steps to move their harvests to other locations and increase the aeration of the water.

“As such, our supply of local fish remains unaffected,” said a FairPrice spokesperson.

Fish farmers source donations online to tide them over during plankton bloom
JALELAH ABU BAKER Straits Times 2 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE - Offshore farmers from a fishing farm here have put up an appeal for donations online after an environmental crisis that has caused them huge losses.

Ah Hua Kelong, which is located off Lorong Halus on the north-east coast, attributed the loss in 80 per cent of their fish to a plankton bloom. The phenomenon happens when the micro-organisms found in seawater multiply quickly in a very short time, draining the seawater of oxygen. Majority of the farm's fishes have died as a result.

The farmers wrote on crowdfunding site Indiegogo: "We are on the verge of losing the workers, the farm and everything we have and it is not just because of broken supply but because of the news and speculations."

They added that 20 per cent of their fish are healthy and safe to sell and eat because they were transferred out of "troubled waters". Ah Hua Kelong specialises in farming Grouper, Seabass and Golden pomfret, according to its website.

The Straits Times reported on Sunday that thousands of fish died in coastal farms off Changi. Dead fish were also seen along the Pasir Ris shoreline. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) attributed the deaths to gill damage caused by plankton. AVA was quoted as saying that lab tests conducted so far did not detect biological toxins in the fish, and fish from local farms remains safe to eat.

Ah Hua Kelong started the project on Feb 28, and has set a goal of US$20,000 (S$27,303). By Monday morning, it has raised US$3,563 (S$4,864). The fund-raising will continue till March 30.

"We are not asking for much. We hope to raise enough to only help us pay off expense for at least 3 months since now both demand and supply are in the ditch," the farmers wrote.