Best of our wild blogs: 19 Sep 16

Observing sky lanterns
Looking deeper into issues

New bus stop built next to Punggol mangroves
wild shores of singapore

Life History of the Felder's Royal v2.0
Butterflies of Singapore

Job: Undergraduate part-time assistants wanted (Sep 2016 – Aug 2017) for image processing & digital archiving of Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey specimens
The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

Malayan Box Turtle (Cuora amboinensis) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Monday Morgue

Read more!

Mosquito fogging has ‘severe limitation’: NEA

Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia 18 Sep 16;

SINGAPORE: The National Envionment Agency (NEA) has stepped up measures such as fogging in an effort to quell local mosquito breeding which has led to diseases such as dengue and the ongoing Zika outbreak.

But fogging has its limits, according to NEA chairman Liak Teng Lit. "When we fog, we kill not just the mosquitoes, we also kill the predators such as dragonflies. And dragonflies are nature’s air force. The dragonflies can eat as much as 100 mosquitoes a day,” he explained.

“Mosquitoes, if there are breeding sites, will recover within days. Within a week, the larvae will be flying around. But the dragonfly will take 3 to 6 months to recover. So during that period, there will be no predator to control the mosquito.”

Added Mr Liak: “So fogging, while it has some use - and quite frankly, it looks very impressive and lots of people like the fireworks; because of all the smoke, looks like something is being done - but there is severe limitation."


The most effective method to reduce the mosquito population remains that of eliminating potential breeding habitats.

Said Assistant Professor Roman Carrasco of the Department of Biological Sciences at National University of Singapore: "They have evolved to be able to reproduce very fast in houses, outside of houses and they are very effective in detecting stagnant water that one might have in the garden or the house, or some hidden crevice in a tree.”

"They are very good at finding these spots for breeding and once they are able to find the spot, they are able to lay hundreds of eggs and the females have been effective at finding people to bite.”

“That is why it is so hard to control them - because a few mosquitos are able to make the most of the very few breeding habitats and maintain a population that is enough to continue having dengue or Zika," he added.

Between January and July 2016, NEA officers were deployed daily to do about 748,000 island-wide inspections, of which more than 10,000 breeding spots were destroyed. Half of these were found in the home. With the Aedes mosquito preferring to breed in clean, stagnant water, some two thirds of breeding sites are found in homes.


Over the past two years, the top five breeding habitats in homes have not changed. They are domestic containers, such as pails; flower pot plates; ornamental containers such as vases; hardened soil in plants and toilet bowls.

With the majority of breeding spots found in homes, in some cases, authorities may need to gain entry into inaccessible premises by force, in order to inspect. In these cases, NEA is urging all residents to be fully cooperative.

"Frankly, there are times when the NEA officers turn up at the door, people are at work, so we have to come back again, usually in the evening. But even in the evening sometimes people they are not there. And there are also households that are empty. And there are also people who have gone for holiday,” said Mr Liak.

“So we need to create the urgency for people to realise that this is a problem. And I think the best thing for everyone to do is actually this. First, when an NEA officer comes by, please co-operate. Please help. Open the door because they are very busy going house to house.”

“Number two, if you are not going to be at home for a few days or a few weeks, do leave the key with your neighbours. And when the NEA officer comes, get your neighbours to open the door. Then we don't have to force entry."

- CNA/jo

Read more!

Indonesia: Blast fishing hurts Sawu Sea’s marine habitats

Djemi Amnifu The Jakarta Post 18 Sep 16;

Blast fishing, which often occurs in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) waters, especially around Sumba Island, has expanded to parts of the Sawu Sea National Park’s (TNP) conservation area.

“[Dynamite fishing] perpetrators tend to choose coral reef areas, where most fish can be found. They expanded their operational areas to parts of the Sawu Sea TNP as it has a high coral reef diversity,” Kupang National Conservation Area Agency (BKPPN) head Ikram Sangadji told journalists on Friday.

He added that destructive fishing could instantly lower fish populations and reduce marine biodiversity, including coral reefs and sea biota associated with the coral reef ecosystem.

One fish bomb using a 1.5 liter bottle can destroy 10 square meters of coral reef.

“Blast fishing has a very large and extensive impact. It can lead to a significant decline in fish populations and other sea creatures in coral reefs,” said Ikram.

In response to growing fish bombing practices in the area, he said, the BKPPN in April established the Destructive Fishing Response Team, through which the NTT Water Police (Polair) and the Navy are actively involved in monitoring the conservation of fisheries and maritime resources in the province.

Citing data, Ikram said regencies heavily affected by destructive fishing around Flores Island included East Flores, Ende, Lembata, Sikka and West Manggarai. In the southern areas, Central Sumba, East Sumba, Southwestern Sumba and West Sumba were most affected, he added.

“From our identification results, we can say that the perpetrators of blast fishing in Sumba are from areas outside NTT, such as Bima, Sape and Sumbawa — all in West Nusa Tenggara,” said Ikram. (ebf)

Central government urged to protect Sawu Sea against blast fishing
Djemi Amnifu The Jakarta Post 19 Sep 16;

East Sumba regent Gidion Mbilijora has blamed excessive blast fishing for destroying parts of the Sawu Sea National Park (TNP) in East Nusa Tenggara, leading to a rapid decline in fish populations.

“We want the central government to pay closer attention to this matter. The interests of fishermen living in the area should not be neglected,” he told journalists on Friday.

The regent added that he fully supported the government’s decision to name the TNP Sawu Sea a conservation area in a bid to sustain its ecosystem.

“Therefore, tighter security and monitoring are needed to protect the TNP Sawu Sea, so it will not be damaged,” Gidion said.

Blast fishing, sometimes called fish bombing, has grown rapidly in East Sumba, particularly in Tanjung Sasar, Saluran and Manggudu waters and in Napu.

“The fish bombing is committed by people from outside [the area], namely from Sumbawa [in West Nusa Tenggara],” said Gidion.

He said traditional communities living in 15 districts across East Sumba regency, which has 443 kilometers of coastline, were fully aware of the importance to conserve maritime and coastal areas. Apart from working as fishermen, they also depended on seaweed farming for their livelihoods.

“They truly understand that catching fish with bombs and potassium will kill small fish and destroy coral reefs,” said Gidion.

“We cannot do anything to prevent destructive fishing in our area, because we don’t have the necessary supporting facilities and infrastructure. We don’t have vessels [for sea patrols], for instance. We have put in a request with the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry but received no response yet,” he said. (ebf)

Read more!

Everyone needs the oceans to be protected

‘Protected’ does not mean fishing is entirely banned. Increasingly, governments are encouraging sustainable fishing. However, illegal and unregulated fishing continues in waters far beyond national boundaries.
Today Online 19 Sep 16;

Most people will never glimpse the vast underwater mountains and canyons off Cape Cod that United States President Barack Obama designated as a national monument last Thursday. The same goes for the hundreds of thousands of submerged square miles that the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Costa Rica and other countries have just protected, and for the half-million square miles near Hawaii that Mr Obama recently set aside.

But everyone benefits when underwater tracts are put off limits to commercial fishing and mining, because doing so is one of the best ways to help marine life flourish. It is not just us humans: The seas are home to 80 per cent of all species on the planet, and that is not counting all the other creatures, including three billion people, that directly rely on the ocean for their food.

Ensuring that these ecosystems stay healthy is getting harder, as the oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide and overfishing escalates, aided by advances in deep-water fishing technology. Carbon dioxide turns the water more acidic, threatening the survival of shellfish. Hundreds of marine species are now endangered, and populations of large predatory fish are dropping.

To slow and eventually reverse the destruction, governments have taken to forming preserves. With the actions announced last week at a conference in Washington, protected areas now encompass some 3.5 per cent of the ocean, up from less than 1 per cent in 2000. And studies suggest the reserves make a difference. No matter how large or small, or whether they are in tropical or temperate waters, reserves allow marine life to grow larger, denser, and more diverse. And nearby fisheries rebound.

Plans are in place to expand reserves further. A 1992 treaty obliges governments to protect 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. And earlier this month, 129 governments pledged to work toward protecting 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.

“Protected” does not always mean fishing is entirely banned. Increasingly, governments are encouraging sustainable fishing. Fishing rights or “catch shares” are granted in return for cooperation in limiting catches, an approach that has helped restore fisheries on five continents.

Illegal and unregulated fishing continues, unfortunately, often in waters far beyond national boundaries. More needs to be done to tighten port security to ensure that imported fish are legally caught, and to trace seafood well enough that consumers can know for sure what fish they are buying.

A new satellite-driven interactive tool called Global Fishing Watch will enable governments to track tens of thousands of fishing vessels worldwide and detect illegal fishing. It is an encouraging step in what will need to be a sustained effort to keep the oceans healthy and productive. BLOOMBERG

Read more!