Best of our wild blogs: 6 Mar 15

Dead fish updates: More seen at Sungei Buloh, and other updates
from wild shores of singapore

A Rare Male Asian Koel Call – With Sound Visualisation
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Up to 600 tonnes of fish lost to algal bloom: AVA

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 5 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE — Up to 600 tonnes of fish belonging to 55 farms have been lost to algal bloom in recent days, said the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority today (Mar 5).

Issuing its first comments on the algal bloom since last Saturday, the authority said last year’s plankton bloom cost 53 farms about 500 tonnes of fish.

The AVA also said it would help the affected fish farmers — who operate off Pasir Ris in the East Johor Strait — to recover and restart their operations, and enhance their resilience to environmental challenges.

AVA’s media statement and replies to queries came after Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman visited two affected fish farms today. One of the farmers he visited, Mr Gary Chang, told TODAY via the phone that he managed to minimise his losses to just over a tonne — or 10 to 15 per cent of his fish — by moving half of his stocks to the farm of a good friend in Malaysia. He enveloped the remaining half in canvas bags and aerated the water in the bags, said Mr Chang, who rears grouper and sea bass.

Dr Maliki said farmers who suffered severe losses may not have taken measures early enough. “Plankton bloom occurences are very difficult to prevent, but it is possible to reduce the impact. Whilst we provide assistance to help farmers tide over this difficult period, it is also important for farmers to do their part to take mitigating measures early,” he said. The AVA is looking to build up farmers’ resilience against these incidents, such as through robust contingency plans and contingency exercises. It will also ask farmers who have taken early action to share their experience with other farmers, Dr Maliki added.

Farmers reported the bulk of deaths to have occurred in the pre-dawn hours last Saturday, and many dead wild fish also washed up on Pasir Ris beach over the weekend. TODAY reported on Wednesday that a laboratory test had identified the algae species to belong to the Gymnodinium group, but AVA said its preliminary findings point to the Karlodinium veneficum species, which has been associated with fish kills worldwide.

According to website, the Karlodinium veneficum has been detected in places including France, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and is known to produce karlotoxin, an agent responsible for fish kills. According to Western Australia’s Swan River Trust, there is no evidence that this species is toxic to humans.

The AVA said the dead fish had gill damage caused by plankton. No marine biotixins have been detected in fish samples from affected farms and live fish harvested from the farms are safe for consumption, it added.

DHI Water & Environment, which did the laboratory test for TODAY, said that the seawater sample tested was examined at a magnification of 400 times. At that level, species of algae belonging to the Karlodinium and Gymnodinium groups would appear very similar. To be able to positively identify the algae species, a genetic test or a microscope with 1,500 to 2,000 times’ magnification would be needed, said Dr Hans Eikaas, head of environmental technology and chemistry at DHI, a not-for-profit offering consultancy and water-modelling services.

To his knowledge, no Karlodinium algae has been found in the East Johor Strait, although they have been found in the West Johor Strait, said Dr Eikaas.

Blogger and marine enthusiast Ria Tan reported seeing dead wild and farmed fish at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Extension, which is near the West Johor Strait, yesterday afternoon. But West Johor Strait farmer Malcolm Ong said there have been no fish deaths on his farm so far. His staff are on alert during this “dangerous period” and have pumps and aerators on standby, said Mr Ong, chief executive of Metropolitan Fishery Group, which is a major stakeholder in Singapore’s largest marine fish farm, off Lim Chu Kang.

On how it was dealing with plankton bloom in the longer term, the AVA said it has been working with the Tropical Marine Science Institute of the National University of Singapore on plankton bloom studies since last year’s episode. The studies, for the development of effective mitigating solutions, are ongoing, it said.

The AVA also called for proposals to design and develop a closed-containment aquaculture system for coastal fish farming last year. It recently awarded the tender to five companies, which will be working on a sustainable option for fish farms to minimise exposure to changes in the environment, such as plankton bloom, said the authority.

Fish farmers affected by fish deaths will receive help from AVA
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 5 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE: Fish farmers affected by the recent fish deaths will get help to recover and restart their operations, as well as increase their resilience against environmental challenges.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will help farmers take early action to mitigate the impact of plankton bloom by putting in place robust contingency plans. It is also working with external agencies, companies and experts to look into possible solutions to minimise the impact of plankton bloom in the long term.

It recently contracted five companies to work on systems that offer a sustainable option for coastal fish farms, to minimise exposure to environmental changes.

Last month, many local farms at the East Johor Straits were affected by a plankton bloom that triggered a massive amount of fish deaths.

- CNA/rg

MND facebook post:
Earlier this morning, MOS Dr Maliki Osman paid a quiet visit to two affected coastal fish farms to better understand their situation after the fish kill and the mitigating measures they have taken. One of the farmers - Mr Gary Chang of San Lay Marine Culture Co, shared how quick implementation of many early measures has helped to salvage his fish stock. Since Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) sounded the first warning in January, he had set up canvas bags to hold his fishes or transferred them to other alternative sites. He still lost about 1.5 tonnes of his fish but he is grateful that his situation is better than last year when he lost almost 16 tonnes of his stock.

Dr Maliki also met Mr Goh Khoon Heng from De Kelong, who unfortunately suffered heavy losses because he could not react in time to the plankton bloom.

AVA will continue to provide the necessary equipment, manpower and technical expertise to help the affected farmers through this period of recovery. AVA is also collaborating with experts and other agencies to explore long term solutions to this problem. This includes looking at closed containment aquaculture systems, which they have recently approved five proposals from companies. These systems will help to minimise exposure to environmental hazards, which are caused by multiple factors and often challenging to solve in the short term.

Incidents like these are likely to incur again in the future. AVA will continue to provide support and assistance. Farmers, too, must be prepared to handle such contingencies so as to minimise impact.

AVA media release AsiaOne 6 Mar 15;

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will provide assistance to fish farmers affected by the recent fish deaths to recover and restart their operations, as well as enhance their resilience against environmental challenges.


In late February 2015, many local fish farms at the East Johor Straits were affected by a plankton bloom situation. These farms suffered massive fish deaths as a result.

Prior to the incident, AVA had been actively monitoring the situation at the fish farming areas. AVA alerted fish farmers in the area on the 16 and 17 February 2015, to elevated plankton levels and to prepare to take the necessary precautions.

These included deploying canvas bags to isolate the fish from its external environment, early harvest of fish to cut loss, and transferring their fish stock to unaffected areas.

Taking early action to mitigate impact of plankton bloom

Minister of State for National Development and Defence, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, visited two of the affected fish farms today. He sympathised with the fish farmers who are affected by the recent incident as it must have been difficult for the farmers to see all these losses.

However, he learnt that one farmer who took early action was able to save his fish and minimise losses significantly.

"Mr Gary Chang told me that he started preparing for a possible plankton bloom once he was alerted to elevated plankton levels. He lined his net-cages with canvas and installed a simple filtration system to maintain the water quality. Other farmers also took measures, but unfortunately suffered severe losses as they may not have done so early enough."

"Plankton bloom occurrences are very difficult to prevent, but it is possible to reduce the impact. Whilst we provide assistance to help farmers tide over this difficult period, it is also important for farmers to do their part to take mitigating measures early.

At the same time, AVA is looking into how to build up farmers' resilience against such incidents. This includes putting in place robust contingency plans and conducting contingency exercises. We will also ask those who have taken early action to share their experience with other farmers," Dr Maliki shared.

Dealing with plankton bloom in the long term

AVA is also working with external agencies, companies and experts to look into possible solutions to minimise the impact of plankton bloom in the long term.

Following last year's plankton bloom episode, AVA has been working with the Tropical Marine Science Institute of NUS (TMSI) on a research project to conduct studies on plankton blooms, to enable development of effective mitigating solutions. The studies are ongoing.

In addition, AVA called for proposals for the design and development of closed-containment aquaculture system for coastal fish farming last year. We recently awarded the tender to five companies to develop a more sustainable sea-based farming system, under the Co-Innovation Partnership Programme (CIPartnership).

The companies will be working on systems that offer a sustainable option for coastal fish farms, to minimise exposure to environmental changes, such as plankton bloom.

AVA's CEO Ms Tan Poh Hong said, "The proposals from the companies are promising. We look forward to working with them on the projects. We hope that the projects can bring about significant improvements to boost the resilience of fish farming."

Channel 8 News article
发布: 04/03/2015 22:26 | 更新: 04/03/2015 23:44
Sina Weibo









- CH8/JK

Mass fish deaths off Singapore coast spark concern
Tessa Wong BBC News 6 Mar 15;

Last Sunday morning, Bryan Ang woke up onboard his floating fish farm on the Johor Strait between Malaysia and Singapore to find nearly all his stock had died.

"We woke up and saw all the fish floating belly-up," he said. "It's devastating."

He was not alone. Hundreds of tonnes of fish - both farmed and wild - died over the weekend in the eastern part of the strait. Fish farmers lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock overnight.

Floating out at sea and washing up on the beaches and mangroves, dead sea creatures began to appear, from sea snakes and seahorses to squid and moray eel.

Nature guide and environmental biology student Sean Yap - who supplied some of these pictures to the BBC - said he was jogging along the eastern Pasir Ris beach on Saturday evening when he smelt a foul stench.

It came from what he described as a "mass grave" - thousands of dead fish washed up on shore.

"There were cleaners present on the shore on Sunday morning to deal with the carcasses, but when we returned at night the high tide had brought in a new batch of bodies."

The environmental authorities said the deaths were due to a plankton bloom, where a species of plankton multiplies rapidly, damaging the gills of fish. It can be triggered by sudden changes in temperature, high nutrient levels in the water, and poor water circulation.

Government agencies were unable to provide the BBC with figures, but said they were "concerned" about the potential impact on marine biodiversity and were taking steps to investigate and help farmers clean up.

Mr Yap said he found it alarming that even species such as catfish and burrowing gobies, which are considered to be more resilient, were found dead. The deaths of "invertebrates like worms is also alarming, as it may mean that the base of the food chain is affected," he said.

There have been similar mass fish deaths in the past five years. This time round, the authorities had given an early warning to farmers - giving them time to move their stock into protective nets, activate pumps to keep the water moving or even float their entire farm to safer areas.

Some managed to save their stock, but few had anticipated the intensity of the plankton bloom nor how quickly it would strike, killing the fish en masse within hours.

Several fish farmers told the BBC that rapid development in the western part of the strait in Johor, the Malaysian state closest to Singapore, was one of the factors affecting the water quality.

"The plankton bloomed this fast because the nutrient content in the sea is so high. And where are all these nutrients coming from? Land reclamation in Malaysia," said Frank Tan.

But tiny Singapore has also reclaimed parts of its northern coast, and dammed up estuaries in the northeast to create reservoirs. It has pumped millions of dollars into the fish farming industry to boost its domestic food security.

Latest government figures show there are now 117 fish farms in waters surrounding the island, spread out over 102ha - twice the amount of space compared to a decade ago.

This photo taken on 26 March 2010 shows Singaporean property developer Eric Cheng (L) watching as a worker feeds the fish on his floating farm in Singapore.
Dr Lim Po Teen, a marine scientist with the University of Malaya, said climate change was in part to blame for the blooms, by affecting temperatures and weather patterns.

"But on a local level, you can see the number of farms increasing in the last few years", he said, which is directly increasing the level of nutrients in the water from fish food and waste.

"We need to have very strict controls and improve the water circulation."

This photo taken on 26 March 2010 shows a floating fish farm in Singapore.
Some of the farmers reeling from the loss of their stock were considering moving away altogether to less troubled waters.

"This weekend's incident was the worst I'd ever seen. Everyone is horrified." said Mr Tan. "We may have to relocate now." He said he was eyeing spots to the south of Singapore.

But many of the farmers were hoping to get through the year by restocking with new fry and selling what little they could save of their remaining stock. Said Mr Ang: "We are trying to explain to people that our fish is still edible. We just need to regain people's trust."

Additional reporting by Heather Chen

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Indonesia: Riau Police name 15 suspects over forest fires in Riau

Antara 5 Mar 15;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - The Riau Police has named 15 arsonists as suspects responsible for the forest fires that occurred in January and February this year.

The 15 suspects were caught red-handed while deliberately setting fires in different districts in Riau province, Chief of the Riau Police Brigadier General Dolly Bambang Hermawan told the press here on Thursday.

The police hope to find the masterminds behind these arson attacks by interrogating the suspects.

Furthermore, the Riau Police will focus on investigating the forest and plantation fires in the province.

"Investigations will continue because we suspect they were ordered to set the fires by other orchestrators," a spokesman for the Riau Police, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Guntur Aryo Tejo, stated.

The police will also probe the possible involvement of plantation companies in the setting of the forest fires in several districts.

"There is no discrimination. If companies are proven to be involved, they will be questioned and brought to court. Last year, PT NSP was tried in court," Tejo affirmed.

Riau province has been hit by forest fires of late, which triggered haze in some cities and districts such as Meranti Islands, Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir and Rokan Hulu.

Land and aerial efforts to extinguish the fires are still going on.

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India, Bangladesh, China most at risk from river floods: study

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 6 Mar 15;

India, Bangladesh and China are most at risk from river floods, with an increasing number of people threatened because of climate change and economic growth in low-lying regions, a study said on Thursday.

The U.S.-based World Resources Institute think-tank and four Dutch research groups estimated that some 21 million people worldwide were affected by river flooding in a typical year.

"That number could increase to 54 million in 2030 due to climate change and socio-economic development," their report said.

People living in 15 emerging nations, led by India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam and Pakistan, accounted for almost 80 percent of all those affected by floods in an average year, it said. In India alone, almost five million people were at risk.

The United States had 167,000 people exposed to floods in a average year, the most for any developed nation, putting it 18th on a ranking of more than 160 nations.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists said last year that global warming would lead to more risks of floods, heatwaves, storms, downpours, landslides, air pollution, water scarcity, sea level rise and storm surges.

Thursday's study estimated that $96 billion of annual global gross domestic product was exposed to river floods every year, led by India on $14 billion and Bangladesh on $5.4 billion. This amount could rise to $521 billion by 2030. it said.

"There will be a huge increase in risk, especially in South East Asia," Hessel Winsemius, an author of the study at Dutch independent research institute Deltares, told Reuters.

Such flooding can also impact multinational companies which spread their production capacity -- monsoon floods in Thailand in 2011 killed more than 800 people and closed many factories -- including some making parts for firms such as Intel and Apple.

Many cities on flood plains were expected to expand in coming years, putting more people and businesses at risk. Multinational companies should think more about flood risks, including back-up suppliers or insurance from vulnerable areas.

Developing nations are working to adapt.

Thailand, for instance, is experimenting with floating homes that can rise up above the waters on pontoons filled with styrofoam.

(Editing by Crispian Balmer)

Global flood toll to triple by 2030
Claire Marshall BBC 5 Mar 15;

The number of people affected by river flooding worldwide could nearly triple in the next 15 years, analysis shows.

Climate change and population growth are driving the increase, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).

In the UK, about 76,000 people a year could be at risk of being affected by flooding if defences aren't improved, it says.

The yearly cost of damage to urban areas could reach more than £1bn.

The centre says this is the first public analysis of all world data on current and future river-flood risks.

It demonstrates some 20 million people are at risk of being affected by flooding, and it costs almost £65bn in GDP.

According to the new evaluation, in just 15 years time these numbers could rise to around 50 million people with an annual potential cost to the world economy of around £340bn.

Much of this is attributed to climate change and socioeconomic development.

By 2030, if there isn't any increased investment in flood prevention, the UK could be facing a yearly bill of more than £2bn.

The World Bank says that this calculator will help to inform governments about mitigation and defence strategies.

According to the Red Cross, almost half of natural disasters they dealt with last year were caused by floods.

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El Niño finally arrives but is weaker than expected, says US agency

Arrival of long-anticipated climate phenomenon will be too little, too late for drought-struck California, meteorologists say
Associated Press The Guardian 5 Mar 15;

The US National Weather Service on Thursday proclaimed the phenomenon is now in place. It​ involves a warming of a certain patch of the central Pacific that changes weather patterns worldwide, associated with flooding in some places, droughts elsewhere, a generally warmer globe, and fewer Atlantic hurricanes.

El Niños are usually so important that economists even track them because of how they affect commodities.

But this is a weak, weird and late version of El Niño, so do not​ expect too many places to feel its effects, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center. He said there may be a slight decrease in the number of Atlantic hurricanes this summer, but he also points out that 1992’s devastating Hurricane Andrew in Florida occurred during an El Ninño summer, so coastal residents should not​ let their guard down.

This is the first El Niño since spring of 2010.

Ever since March 2014, the weather service has been saying an El Nino was just around the corner. But it did not​ quite show up until now.

Meteorologists said the key patch of the Pacific was warming but they didn’t see the second technical part of its definition — certain changes in the atmosphere. Halpert said he did not​ know why this El Niño didn’t form as forecast, saying “something just didn’t click this year.”

For drought-struck California, it​ is too little, too late, meteorologists say.

Last year, some experts were hoping that El Niño would help the southwestern U​S​ droughts because moderate-to-strong events bring more winter rain and snow to California — even flooding and mudslides during 1998’s strong El Niño. But this El Niño arrives at the end of California’s rainy season and is quite weak, Halpert said.

Allan Clarke, a physical oceanography professor at Florida State University, said as far he​ is concerned, El Niño has been around a while and the weather service did not​ acknowledge it. But he agrees that this does​ not look like a strong one.

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