Best of our wild blogs: 9 Apr 15

Celebrate Earth Day with a Coastal Cleanup @ Pasir Ris Beach 6!
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Job opportunity at the Museum: Management Assistant Officer
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Jane’s Walk feat. Love MacRitchie – 2 May 2015
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) - Part I
Rojak Librarian

Butterflies attracted to banana plants
Bird Ecology Study Group

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Out of the sea, into the farm

Fadzil Hamzah, Patrizha Canlas, Cel Gulapa The New Paper AsiaOne 9 Apr 15;

Fish farmers are now divided about the future of their industry, after the recent mass fish deaths.

This new technology which lets them rear fish in a controlled environment may just be what the industry needs to improve the sustainability and productivity of fish farming.

Some farmers are considering a closed containment aquaculture system (CAS) in which fish are grown in tanks instead of in open net sea cages.

The Fish Farmer, which rears and markets seafood, is one of the companies that is putting in such a system.

It is building 10 tanks, which will take around six months to complete, to rear fish.

Mr Malcolm Ong, CEO of the The Fish Farmer, told The New Paper that he would still prefer to rear fish in a natural environment, but the plankton bloom was so severe this year that it has forced him to re-look their farming system.

Blue Ocean Harvest director Jeyel Loh Joo Leng, who lost 16 tonnes of fish this year, agrees that a change is necessary.

"Given a choice, we would do an open net sea cage but we need to do something about our farming," he said.


Not all fish farmers are convinced about the new technology.

Mr Bryan Ang, creative and marketing manager from Ah Hua Kelong, said: "We are thinking of close containment farming for small fishes below three months old... but after that we will release them to open net sea cage farming because closed containment fishes tend to have a 'muddy taste'."

The tanks for the CAS range from a capacity of five cubic metres to 20 cubic metres. But CAS does not come cheap. It costs $12,500 to implement the technology in the smallest tank size, which can take 10,000 small fish weighing 20gm each.

"The future of fish farming is one where the parameters can be controlled. Farming can't be based any more on traditional net cages. There are too many uncertainties," said Dr Michael Voigtmann from Singapore Aquaculture Technologies, one of the companies that build CAS.

But he acknowledged that the older generation especially, may have a harder time adapting to this technology.

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One Singaporean jailed, another fined for smuggling birds, reptiles

Channel NewsAsia 8 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE: Two local men were sentenced on Wednesday (Apr 8) for illegally smuggling animals into Singapore, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

In the first case, a 38-year-old man was sentenced to three months' jail for importing 12 birds into Singapore from Vietnam without the relevant licence. He faces another three months' jail for subjecting the birds to unnecessary suffering or pain, and both sentences will run concurrently, the agencies said.

The illegal import of the birds was detected on Nov 2, 2014, after the man arrived on a flight from Ho Chi Minh City. The 12 birds - nine White-rumped Sharma, two Red Whiskered Bulbul and one Magpie Robin - were concealed individually in customised PVC pipes and were not given food and water.

Eight of the birds died subsequently, while the other four are with the Jurong Bird Park, the agencies added.


The other Singaporean man, also 38, was found to have hidden one bearded dragon and an iguana in the spare tyre compartment on Mar 25. He was issued a composition fine of S$5,000 on Wednesday after being convicted under the Wild Animals and Birds Act, the press release said.

The accused had purchased the reptiles from Malaysia and brought them into Singapore as his personal pets. The reptiles were confiscated and were subsequently sent to Wildlife Reserves Singapore for care and custody, it added.

AVA also reminded the public against bringing live animals or birds into Singapore without a permit. There are strict regulatory requirements for such imports due to animal health reasons and to prevent the introduction of diseases, especially Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or bird flu, according to the agency.

- CNA/hs

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Indonesian government reviews emission targets for Paris talk

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 8 Apr 15;

The government is currently reviewing a national action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (RAN GRK) before making an official emissions cut commitment at a Paris climate conference.

National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) environment and natural resources deputy Endah Murniningtyas said on Tuesday that the revised emission targets in the RAN GRK would be the baseline for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that every country should submit for the UN climate conference in December.

“Presidential Regulation No. 61/2011 on the RAN GRK, which contains former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s pledge that the country’s greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions in 2020 ‘would be reduced by 26 percent — from a business-as-usual scenario — and 41 percent if foreign assistance is available’, has some weaknesses,” said Endah.

“The regulation doesn’t clearly stipulate the roles of regency and city administrations,” she said.

Endah, who is in the working team tasked with drafting the INDCs, said that Indonesia would likely submit its targets between July and September 2015.

The recent merger of the former environment ministry and forestry ministry, Endah said, had also hampered discussions on the targets.

“We are still very confused with the change in the nomenclature like the Environment and Forestry Ministry [which used to be two entities],” she said.

Former environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja reminded the government to make attainable targets that the country could still be committed to amid its economic and development pursuits.

“I’m not worried [about our country’s preparation for the Paris summit] because many countries are not ready yet either,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a government meeting in Jakarta to prepare for the Paris climate conference.

As of Tuesday, only 34 of 193 countries had submitted their INDCs, including the US, Mexico, 28 EU member countries, Russia, Norway, Switzerland and Gabon. The deadline for the INDCs is the end of October 2015.

“The problem is that our government has to be honest and effective in its communications and reflect our commitment to sustainable development,” Sarwono said.

According to him, the government’s policy and action so far have raised doubts on their commitment to sustainable development.

Sarwono said that sometimes the government’s policies contradicted the country’s National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN).

“For example the energy sector is said to be important. But then what’s the relevance of [developing national] private cars? The one supposed to be prioritized is mass transportation,” he said.

Sarwono was referring to the government’s plan to develop and manufacture its own national car with the help of Malaysia’s struggling national carmaker Proton, reasoning that a national car would be a major development for Indonesia by helping to spur its auto industry and increase the country’s technical know-how.

He pointed out the government’s intention in the RPJMN to open up 1 million hectares of new agriculture fields in a bid to achieve food sovereignty.

According to him, it is important for the government to distinguish between food sovereignty and food security so that it could not justify opening up new agriculture fields without assessing the environmental impact beforehand.

Dwi Andreas Santosa, an agricultural expert from the Bogor Agriculture Institute, previously voiced similar concerns about the plan, saying that Bappenas once tried to do the same thing during former president Soeharto’s era, costing Rp 3 trillion (US$230 million). But the plan did not work out as the newly opened fields were destroyed and had to be rehabilitated for another Rp 3 trillion.

“There is a need to conduct a simulation for the need of the new land in the RPJMN [to assess] how big the impact is and the emissions [caused by the plan],” an advisor to the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Yetti Rusli, said during the meeting on Tuesday.

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