Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jul 16

Dead fishes at West Johor Strait, 17-18 Jul 2016
wild shores of singapore

Macro Outing : 2nd Quarter of 2016
Bugs & Insects of Singapore

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Lim Chu Kang fish deaths 'due to low oxygen levels'

Fish farms not badly affected; AVA had sent alert last Friday about risk
Goh Yan Han Straits Times 19 Jul 16; and AsiaOne

Large numbers of dead fish were found near Lim Chu Kang jetty yesterday morning, washed up on the shore or afloat at sea.

Fish farmers attributed the deaths to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the waters of the West Johor Strait, along which about 50 fish farms are located.

The chief executive of The Fish Farmer, Mr Malcolm Ong, 52, told The Straits Times: "According to my monitoring system, dissolved oxygen levels in my farm have been decreasing since July 8.

"There was a marginal increase on July 12 but after that, it came down again and has remained low since. We have been prepared and our staff are on 24-hour standby."

Mr Ong, who did not lose any fish beyond the normal losses, suggested that low oxygen levels could be an effect of the conditions of the waters near Lim Chu Kang.

"As we are not near an open coast, water is slow moving such that dissolved oxygen levels deplete more quickly," he said.

Fish Farmers Association of Singapore president Timothy Ng said such occurrences are frequent in the Lim Chu Kang area. He said: "Unless the environment improves in terms of water flow, this will recur from time to time and I'm not sure how it can be stopped."

Farms tend to install aerators that churn the water and ensure there is sufficient supply of dissolved oxygen when levels are low, although these are not always sufficient to prevent deaths.

However, none of the farms contacted by Mr Ng or The Straits Times suffered serious losses.

Dissolved oxygen levels can also differ from farm to farm, said Mr Ong, who monitors the levels and uses pumps and aerators to mitigate any negative impact on his farm. His farm has had several baby fish deaths this past week, a normal occurrence when dissolved oxygen levels are low.

According to Mr Ong, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) sent out an automated alert last Friday about the possibility of low dissolved oxygen levels, and asked farmers to be vigilant. AVA did not respond to queries by press time.

Both Mr Ng and Mr Ong ruled out the possibility of a plankton bloom as a reason for the low levels of dissolved oxygen.

In February last year, a plankton bloom, which gobbles up oxygen in the water, killed an estimated 500 to 600 tonnes of fish, affecting 55 out of 63 fish farms along the East Johor Strait.

Farms in the Lim Chu Kang area were also severely affected by a plankton bloom in March last year, with one of the farms losing all 35 tonnes of its fish.

Large numbers of dead fish near Lim Chu Kang jetty
Straits Times 19 Jul 16;

Large numbers of dead fish were found near Lim Chu Kang jetty yesterday morning, washed up on the shore or afloat at sea. There are about 50 fish farms along this stretch of water on the West Johor Strait. The fish farmers have ruled out a plankton bloom. In February last year, a plankton bloom killed an estimated 500 to 600 tonnes of fish along the East Johor Strait.

Scores of dead fish found at Lim Chu Kang jetty
Sanjay Nair and Lim Yaohui Straits Times 18 Jul 16;

SINGAPORE - Scores of dead fish were spotted at Lim Chu Kang jetty on Monday (July 18) morning.

When The Straits Times visited the scene, the fish were seen either floating belly-up on the water or washed up along with water bottles and other rubbish along the shore.

Dead fish at Lim Chu Kang jetty

A pungent smell emanated from the area, as well as from several black plastic bags at a rubbish bin nearby.

A boat belonging to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) was docked at the jetty, while a "kelong"-like structure was combing through the water for checks.

An AVA boat at Lim Chu Kang jetty on July 18, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Dead fish were also discovered by The Straits Times at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Monday, but in smaller numbers than at Lim Chu Kang.

The Straits Times has contacted AVA for more information.

This is not the first time that mass fish deaths have happened at a park or reservoir here. Last July, hundreds of dead fish were seen in a stream in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, believed to be due to the hot and dry weather.

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Dead fishes at West Johor Strait, 17-18 Jul 2016 on wild shores of singapore

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Malaysia: Johor govt to review need for Phase 2 of Rapid’s raw water project

The Star 18 Jul 16;

KOTA TINGGI: The first phase of the Raw Water Supply Project for Rapid (PAMER), which officially began operations on Monday, is more than adequate to supply water to the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), says Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.

Therefore, he said, the state government would relook at whether to proceed with the second phase of the project.

“Based on its current capacity, we don’t see the need to continue with the second phase, but we’ll look into it and maybe, if there is a need, it will just involve the dam expansion,” Mohamed Khaled told reporters after officially launching PAMER’s first phase operations at Seluyut Dam in Kota tinggi on Monday.

The RM1bil project, which began in 2014, has a capacity of 260 million litres per day (MLD) of water with 230 MLD to PIC and the rest to Sungai Lebam Dam for public use.

In its initial plan, PAMER comprises two phases with the first phase to be undertaken by the state government and the second phase to be built by other parties.

The second phase is expected to involve additional facilities to supply another 260 MLD for PIPC’s future users.

PAMER is one of the PIC’s six components in the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC).

Mohamed Khaled also said the state government was happy the project was completed and operating as scheduled.

“It is the first completed facility in the PIC and the project is part of our assurance that Kota Tinggi and Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) will not face water problems,” said Mohamed Khaled.

Meanwhile, Petronas executive vice-president and chief executive officer for downstream Md Arif Mahmood said PAMER had, in principle, been supplying water to Sungai Lebam since March.

“It will start supplying water to PIC in the fourth quarter of this year,” he said in a speech. - Bernama

Raw water facility in Johor's PIC starts operations
ZAZALI MUSA The Star 18 Jul 16;

KOTA TINGGI: The first facility in the multi-billion ringgit Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) Rapid Raw Water project (Pamer) had started operations as scheduled.

Petronas executive vice-president and chief executive officer downstream Mohd Arif Mahmood (pic) said Pamer would provide a total of 260 million litres per day (mld) of raw water.

He said apart from supplying the PIC, 30 mld of raw water would also be channelled to the Sungai Lebam reservoir to supplement the state's existing water supply.

The Pamer project involves the development of several main structures, namely the Seluyut dam and a water impound reservoir with a 73 million cubic metre capacity.

Others are an intake pump station at Sungai Sedeli Besar, a booster pump station at Sungai Seluyut, a terminal reservoir at Bukit Panjang and 90km of large water pipelines connecting these all together and to the PIC.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin opened the Seluyut dam located along Jalan Kota Tinggi near Felda Pasak.

Also present at the event were Petronas president and group chief executive officer Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin and senior vice president and CEO of Refinery and Petrochemical Corp Sen Bhd Dr Colin Wong Hee Huing.

Pengerang Integrated Complex's Raw Water Project Begins Operations
Bernama 18 Jul 16;

(Bernama) -- PETRONAS reached another important milestone in the development of the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) with Projek Air Mentah RAPID (PAMER) commencing operations today, the first facility within the PIC to run as scheduled.

PAMER is one of six associated facilities which will support the complex s overall development, slated to achieve successful start-up in the first quarter of 2019. It has commenced raw water supply from the Seluyut dam to Johor State s Sungai Lebam reservoir since March 2016 and will start supplying to the PIC project in Pengerang, here by Q4 this year.

PAMER will provide a total of 260 million litres per day (mld) of raw water. Apart from supplying the PIC, 30 mld of raw water is being channelled to the Sungai Lebam reservoir to supplement the state s existing water supply to the public in and around Pengerang, said PETRONAS Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Downstream, Encik Md Arif Mahmood.

This is part of PETRONAS corporate social investment (CSI) commitment to give back and contribute towards the betterment of the people and communities where we operate, he added.

Aside from the early supply of raw water to the Sungai Lebam reservoir, PETRONAS in November 2015 advanced the construction of the PAMER pipelines and allowed Syarikat Air Johor (SAJ) to direct raw water from Sungai Papan to Sungai Lebam reservoir to help ease water woes in and around Pengerang.

Md Arif also congratulated the PAMER team for adhering to PETRONAS strict health, safety and environment (HSE) standards throughout the project.

This endeavour recorded 2.5 million of working hours without injury since it started in 2014. The team must be congratulated for this remarkable achievement, expressed Encik Md Arif.

A ceremony to commemorate the project completion was held today at the PAMER project site, attended by Johor Menteri Besar Dato Mohamed Khaled Nordin. Also present were Johor State Secretary Dato Haji Ismail Karim; Johor State Executive Council for Public Works, Rural and Regional, Datuk Ir Hasni Haji Mohammad; and Kota Tinggi District Officer Haji Mohd Noorazam Dato Haji Osman.

PETRONAS President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, and PETRONAS Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of PETRONAS Refinery and Petrochemical Corporation Sdn Bhd (PRPC), Ir Dr Colin Wong Hee Huing were also at the event.

The PAMER project involved the development of several main infrastructures, namely the Seluyut dam and water impounding reservoir with 73 million cubic metre storage capacity; an intake pump station at Sungai Sedili Besar; a booster pumping station at Sungai Seluyut; a terminal reservoir at Bukit Panjang; and 90 kilometres of large water pipelines connecting all these infrastructures and to the PIC.

The procurement, construction and commissioning (PCC) of PAMER was carried out by Konsortium Asia Baru - PPC JV (KAP) comprising Asia Baru Construction Sdn Bhd and Putra Perdana Construction Sdn Bhd. -- BERNAMA

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Malaysia: Penang airport floods stall 12 flights

The Star 19 Jul 16;

GEORGE TOWN: A total of 12 flights were rescheduled at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas after the terminal was flooded during a five-hour downpour which began at about 2.30pm.

The downpour caused the arrival hall to be flooded with water levels reaching 0.3m at about 5pm before subsiding about an hour later.

Airport senior manager Mohd Arif Jaafar said 10 incoming and two outgoing flights were affected from about 4pm onwards.

Among the affected flights were incoming AirAsia flights from Jakarta, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur (two), Saigon and Johor Baru.

Also delayed were a Firefly flight from Kota Baru and three Malindo flights from Malacca, Subang and Kuala Lumpur.

There was also traffic jam at the arrival area of the airport as water was seen overflowing at the roundabout near the terminal.

Contractor Ong Lay Hong, 53, who was at the airport to pick up his son, who was arriving back from Beijing, said he was at the airport at 4.15pm and the water level was already rising.

“The water was flowing from inside the arrival hall to the waiting area for taxis,” he said.

Travellers, among them American tourist Trisha Goulding, 29, were seen lugging their heavy luggage through the water at the arrival hall.

“It is very inconvenient to drag my luggage through this flood water,” she said.

The flooding has happened for the umpteenth time at the airport since the RM250mil expansion project was completed at the end of 2012 and despite various measures taken over the years to reduce the flooding woes.

Based on newspaper reports, the airport had been hit by flash floods, sometimes up to twice a year.

Heavy rainfall also resulted in flooding in several areas on the island including Permatang Damar Laut, Teluk Bahang and Batu Ferringhi.

Teluk Bahang residents said it was one of the worst flash floods in recent years, with about 300 houses affected by the rising waters.

Teluk Bahang Village Development and Security Com­mittee chairman Zainudin Yusoff, 54, said the area worst hit in Teluk Bahang was Kampung Nelayan, which is near a river.

He said that it had rained for about 20 hours since 9.15pm on Sunday and that the condition worsened yesterday due to high tide.

South-west district officer Ederis Mat Din said about 30 people from 10 families had been evacuated yesterday.

But it is learnt that they returned to their homes once flood waters subsided.

He also confirmed there was no death reported at press time yesterday.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said heavy rainfall was recorded up to 190mm in the Teluk Bahang Dam and high tide had caused the Sungai Teluk Awak’s bank to burst.

The Meteorological Department here recorded a total rainfall of 164mm as of 8pm at the Bayan Lepas station yesterday, with the highest rainfall reading at 69.2mm at 5pm.

Heavy rains cause floods inside Penang airport
The Star 18 Jul 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Tourists were seen lugging their heavy bags through a flooded Penang International Airport after a heavy downpour caused water to seep into the arrival hall in Bayan Lepas.

However, flights in and out of the airport remained open.

American Trisha Goulding, 29, said it was inconvenient to trudge around her luggage in flood waters.

"We had to circle in the air for awhile before landing," she said.

A Tourism Malaysia staff said it started flooding around 5pm.

"The waters were less than 0.3 meters in here but rose quite high in the waiting area outside," she said when interviewed at the scene.

14 flights rescheduled at Penang airport after storm
JOLYNN FRANCIS The Star 18 Jul 16;

GEORGE TOWN: A total of 14 flights had to be rescheduled on Monday after heavy rains lashed the Penang International Airport (PIA) in Bayan Lepas.

Airport senior manager Mohd Arif Jaafar said the 10 incoming and four outgoing flights were affected since 4pm.

The airport’s arrival hall were flooded causing passengers to lug their suitcases through the waters.

Among the affected flights were AirAsia flights from Jakarta, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur (two), Saigon and Johor Baru.

Also delayed was a Firefly flight from Kota Baru and three Malindo Air flights from Malacca, Subang and Kuala Lumpur.

The departure flights affected were Malaysia Airlines flights to Kuala Lumpur and AirAsia flights to Singapore.

One of worst floods hit Penang's Teluk Bahang
The Star 18 Jul 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Teluk Bahang came under knee-deep of water after a continuous downpour from 1pm Monday in one of the worst floodings in years.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said lightning storms and strong winds were reported.

“Flood waters rose up to 0.3 meters.

“The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS) are already in the area to provide assistance and clean up after the flood recedes,” he said.

Bernama reports that Teluk Bahang area was been hit by one of the worst flash floods in years due to the heavy rains.

The water level in some areas had reached above the knee and some cars had been stuck in the flood.

Locals expressed their worries as some areas had never experienced such a bad flash flood before.

One of the locals met who lived near the Teluk Awak river, Iskandar Hassan, 43, said that the water had risen quite fast and many vehicals had been stranded and water had entered several houses.

"If the rain continues, I am afraid that this will continue to happen throughout the rainy season," he said.

Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah when contacted by Bernama said his main worry was that the flash flood was being triggered by the hill clearings.

Chow when contacted said that heavy rainfall up to 190mm had been recorded in Teluk Bahang Dam and high tide had caused the Teluk Awak river to overflow its banks.

The flooded areas are along Jalan Hassan Abas and the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) personnel had been sent to the flooded locations to assist the people.

Chow also said that so far the flood had been recorded at 12 inches in certain places and might be higher in some other places as heavy rain was expected to last till late evening.

Flash flood in Teluk Bahang due to poor drainage, says Hilmi
The Star 19 Jul 16;

BALIK PULAU: The flash flood which hit Teluk Bahang on Monday was due to the poor drainage system at Sungai Teluk Bahang, said Balik Pulau MP Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Dr Hilmi, who is also Deputy Health Minister, said he would request for state and Federal allocations to build a bridge at Sungai Teluk Bahang to replace the two blocked water channels, which caused spillage to the village.

He said this to reporters after visiting the temporary flood shelter at the Penang City Council community hall near here on Monday night.

Several low lying areas in Penang, including Bayan Lepas, Batu Maung, Relau, Teluk Bahang and Penang International Airport were hit by flash floods following continuous heavy rains since noon.

He said five families were placed at the community hall while the rest stayed at their homes for fear of losing their valuables.

Over 300 families in Kampung Nelayan, Kampung Teluk Awak and Kampung Mukim 1 in Teluk Bahang were affected by the floods. – Bernama

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Can we feed the world without cutting forests? It can be done, says U.N.

Magdalena Mis, Thomson Reuters Foundation Yahoo News 18 Jul 16;

ROME, July 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Agriculture is the biggest driver of deforestation globally fuelled by a growing demand for food, yet it is possible to feed the world without cutting forests, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday.

Most forest loss occurs in the world's tropical regions, which lost 7 million hectares of forest a year between 2000 and 2010, while gaining 6 million hectares per year in agricultural land, FAO said in a report.

Some countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have managed to change this pattern by improving land rights, boosting agricultural production and protecting forests, FAO said.

"There has always been the thinking that in order to produce more food to feed the growing population you need to clear more land for agriculture," said Eva Muller, director of the Forestry Policy and Resources Division at FAO.

"(But) it is possible (to produce more food without cutting forests)," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the world will need to feed a population of more than 9 billion, up from 7.4 billion today. Yet 80 percent of arable land is already in use globally.

Chile, Vietnam, Gambia and Ghana were among more than 20 countries that in the past two decades improved their food security by increasing agricultural production, while maintaining or increasing forest cover, FAO said.

One of the key factors, Muller said, was investment in agriculture to boost production.

"The investment in agriculture was mainly to increase agriculture productivity through intensification rather than in clearing new land for agriculture," she said.

Better land planning and improved land rights, which contribute to better protection of forests, and improved coordination between forest and agriculture policies, were also important, she said.

"Secure and clear land tenure is key because if people have the right to land they will treat the land differently than if they don't," Muller said.

Forests are important for agriculture because they protect soil against erosion, conserve water and reduce flood risk, FAO said.

"In the past agriculture was focused on producing food, and forestry was focusing on something else, they were never talking to each other so sometimes their policies ended up being even contradictive," Muller said.

"If you're really looking at sustainable development, and this is what everybody wants, we need the forests because they are essential for regulating water flows, storing carbon and preserving soils," Muller said.

"Without forests you will not have those benefits any more and that will in a longer term create even more problems."

(Reporting by Magdalena Mis, editing by Alex Whiting; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, corruption and climate change. Visit

Bridging the gap between forestry and agriculture to improve food security
FAO calls for better coordination between the two sectors towards sustainable farming systems and forest management
FAO 19 Jul 16;

Agro-forestry farmers are tending to the crops in Kigoma, Tanzania. Forests are an integral part of the national agriculture policy with the aim of protecting arable land from erosion and increasing agricultural production.
18 July 2016, Rome - While agriculture remains the most significant driver of global deforestation, there is an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security. This is the key message of the FAO's flagship publication The State of the World's Forests (SOFO), presented today at the opening of the 23d Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO).

Forests play a major role in sustainable agricultural development through a host of channels, including the water cycle, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, natural pest control, influencing local climates and providing habitat protection for pollinators and other species.

"The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change, recognizes that we can no longer look at food security and the management of natural resources separately," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his opening remarks to the Committee on Forestry."Both agreements call for a coherent and integrated approach to sustainability across all agricultural sectors and food systems. Forests and forestry have key roles to play in this regard".

"The key message from SOFO is clear: it is not necessary to cut down forests to produce more food," he added.

Agriculture accounts for the lion's share of the conversion of forests. According to today's report, in the tropics and subtropics large-scale commercial agriculture and local subsistence agriculture are responsible for about 40 percent and 33 percent of forest conversion, respectively, and the remaining 27 percent of deforestation happens due to urban growth, infrastructure expansion and mining.

On the flip side of the coin, the report stresses that forests serve many vital ecological functions that benefit agriculture and boost food production.

"Food security can be achieved through agricultural intensification and other measures such as social protection, rather than through expansion of agricultural areas at the expense of forests," said Eva Müller, Director of FAO's Forestry Policy and Resources Division. "What we need is better cross-sectoral coordination of policies on agriculture, forestry, food and land use, better land use planning, effective legal frameworks, and stronger involvement of local communities and smallholders."

She added: "Governments should provide local communities not only with secure land tenure but also with secure forest tenure rights. A farmer knows best how to manage his or her own resources but often lacks legal instruments to do so."

Improving food security while halting deforestation

Well-managed forests have tremendous potential to promote food security. Besides their vital ecological contributions, forests contribute to rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation through income generated by engaging in the production of forest goods and environmental services. About 2.4 billion people rely on woodfuel for cooking and water sterilization. And forest foods provide protein, minerals and vitamins to rural diets and can also serve as safety nets in periods of food scarcity.

According to SOFO, since 1990, over 20 countries succeeded in improving national levels of food security while at the same time maintaining or increasing forest cover - demonstrating that it is not necessary to cut down forests to produce more food. Twelve of these countries increased forest cover by over 10 percent: Algeria, Chile, China, the Dominican Republic, the Gambia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Morocco, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Viet Nam.

Their successes all relied on a similar set of tools: effective legal frameworks, secure land tenure, measures to regulate land-use change, policy incentives for sustainable agriculture and forestry, adequate funding, and clear definition of roles and responsibilities of governments and local communities.

Successful case studies

The report cites case studies from seven countries - Chile, Costa Rica, The Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Tunisia and Viet Nam - that illustrate the opportunities for improving food security while increasing or maintaining forest cover. Six of these countries achieved positive change in the period 1990-2015 in two food-security indicators - the prevalence of undernourishment and the number of undernourished people - as well as increases in forest area. The Gambia, the only low-income country among the seven, succeeded in achieving the first goal of halving the proportion of hungry people within the same period.

Viet Nam, for example, has implemented a successful land reform to provide secure land tenure as a way of encouraging long-term investment. This process was accompanied by a shift from state forestry to multi-stakeholder forestry with the active participation of local communities including a forest land allocation programme and forest protection contracts with local households. The land reform was also coupled with policy instruments to increase agricultural productivity, including land tax exemptions, soft loans, export promotion, price guarantees, support for mechanization and reductions in postharvest losses.

In Costa Rica, deforestation reached its peak in the 1980s, mainly due to the conversion of forest cover to pastures. The country has since reversed this trend largely due to the forest law, which now prohibits changes in land use from natural forest, and its system of Payments for Environmental Services (PES), which provides farmers with incentives to plant trees, and supports forest conservation. As a result, forest cover has increased to nearly 54 percent of the country's land area in 2015.

In Tunisia national development plans recognize the beneficial role of forests in protecting land against erosion and desertification. Agricultural production has increased through intensification that makes better use of existing agricultural land through irrigation, fertilizers, mechanization, improved seeds and better farming practice. Incentives for establishing forest plantations in the country include free seedlings and compensation for the loss of agricultural income.

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