Singapore does not import chicken and eggs from Kelantan: AVA

FARIS MOKHTAR Today Online 9 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — Poultry and poultry products that Singapore imports from Malaysia are safe for consumption, the authorities here assured the public, following news of a bird flu outbreak in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. Existing measures will be stepped up to prevent the H5N1 virus from entering Singapore, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday (March 9).

Poultry and eggs from Kelantan are not an approved source here, said the AVA, and Singapore allows import of poultry and eggs only from disease-free zones found in five Malaysian states, namely Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Perak.

Singapore imports about 35 per cent of chicken and 93 per cent of ducks from Malaysia. Other sources include Brazil and the United States. For eggs, 76 per cent of the supply comes from Malaysia, while farms here provide the rest. Last year, the Republic imported 48.8 million chickens in all.

The AVA added that it will work closely with Malaysia’s Department of Veterinary Services to ensure that its imported poultry and eggs do not compromise public health.

Existing measures will also be stepped up, including deploying more officers — from two to three — to conduct checks on poultry imports entering through the Tuas Checkpoint. The AVA will also conduct daily checks on all 14 poultry slaughterhouses here.

Every consignment of imported live poultry is accompanied by an import permit and a veterinary health certificate from Malaysian authorities, which includes details like the farm name, farm code and quantity of poultry. Consignments are imported in crates and each crate is labelled with the farm name, farm code and date of export.

"At the point of import, AVA inspectors will verify that the consignment is from an approved farm. Consignments are also inspected to ensure animal health is safeguarded," the AVA said in response to queries.

Poultry farms in Singapore have been advised to disallow non-essential visits from the public, as well as to ensure that their bird-proofing measures are in place to keep out wild birds.

Singapore's poultry, egg supply unaffected by Kelantan bird flu outbreak: AVA
Channel NewsAsia 9 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: The current outbreak of bird flu in Kelantan does not have any impact on Singapore's poultry and egg supply as Singapore does not allow the products to be imported from Kelantan, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) on Thursday (Mar 9).

Poultry and poultry products in Singapore are safe for consumption, said AVA in a media release.

It added that Kelantan is not an approved source for poultry and eggs, and that Singapore allows the import of poultry and eggs only from the disease-free zones in Malaysia - Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Perak.

AVA added that it will continue to work closely with Malaysia's Department of Veterinary Services to ensure that the poultry and eggs imported do not compromise public or animal health.

The authority added that Singapore has stepped up its existing measures against bird flu in response to the Kelantan outbreak.

Surveillance and inspections at the points of entry have been increased, and local poultry farms have been asked to beef up their biosecurity measures. These include disallowing non-essential visits to the farms, as well as ensuring that their "bird-proofing" measures are intact, AVA said.

It added that while Singapore is free from bird flu, AVA will continue to monitor the situation and work with stakeholders to prevent the virus from spreading to Singapore.

Earlier on Thursday, Malaysia reported that the outbreak in Kelantan has been contained and that the virus had not spread to humans.


Singapore imports about 35 per cent of its chicken and 93 per cent of its ducks from Malaysia, said AVA, adding that 76 per cent of its eggs come from Malaysia and local farms account for the remaining 24 per cent of its egg supply.

AVA noted that while Singapore is free from bird flu, it is endemic in the region.

Existing measures against the virus include source accreditation, import control, routine inspection and surveillance at points of entry, local farms, poultry slaughterhouses and pet shops, AVA said.

There are also regular checks on migratory birds as well as common ones such as crows, mynas and pigeons, and free-roaming chickens are also monitored.

- CNA/dt

Bird flu outbreak in Kelantan contained, no known human infections: Minister
Melissa Goh Channel NewsAsia 9 Mar 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's health minister on Thursday (Mar 9) said that the outbreak of the highly contagious H5N1 bird flu virus in the country was contained in the northern tip of Kelantan and that there was no report that it had spread to human beings.

"It is still limited to poultry stock and within the area affected, there is no report it has spread to other places," Dr S Subramaniam said.

The strain of avian flu was confirmed among chickens at a backyard farm in Kelantan, according to a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Wednesday.

More than a thousand poultry birds have been culled within a 2km radius of the affected areas.

The H5N1 strain - which is different from the H7N9 virus that has killed at least 110 people in China this winter - has also been detected in Cambodia in recent weeks.

As a precaution to ensure the containment of the virus' spread, the health minister urged the veterinary service department to tighten checks at borders with Thailand.

Meanwhile, Singapore has stepped up its existing measures against bird flu in response to the outbreak.

Its Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday that the outbreak did not have any impact on Singapore's poultry and egg supply as Kelantan is not an approved source for the country.

- CNA/mz/nc

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Indonesia: Habitats of Sumatran animals continue to decline

Antara 10 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The habitats of Sumatran animals, including elephants, tigers, and orangutans, continue to decline due to illegal plantation activities inside the Leuser Ecosystem Zone, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), an international environmental group.

"Some recalcitrant companies are presumed to be illegally destroying the Leuser forest, and as a result, the important habitats of these wild animals are now in danger," Gemma Tillack, agribusiness campaign director of RAN, noted in her written statement received by Antara on Thursday.

The Leuser ecosystem, comprising intact tropical lowland rainforests, draped mountains, and steamy peatlands, has the most diverse and ancient wildlife ever documented in science, the environmental group stated on its official website.

The forest is the last place on earth where Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos, and sun bears still roam side by side, it added.

Located in the northern part of the Sumatran Island, which administratively belongs to the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, the Leuser ecosystem comprises the third-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon forest in Brazil and Zaire forest in Africa.

According to an observation conducted by the group for a period of six months, illegal logging activities have been rampant in the provinces East Aceh Sub-district and have endangered the community living in the downstream areas.

The companys activities in the forest pose a major threat to the Sumatran elephants, as it could lead to an increase in human-wildlife conflict, the group pointed out.

The illegal activities in the forest also affect the farming activities of the nearby community and pose a threat to the animals health and well-being.

In 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Acehnese governor had issued a moratorium order that halted logging activities, including on the authorized areas inside the forest, Tillack stated.

"As a result, plantation and logging activities inside the forest are illegal, and the government needs to intervene by canceling the work permits of the companies in Leuser," she added.

(Reported by Aditya Ramadhan/Uu. KR-GNT/INE/H-YH)

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Great Barrier Reef bleached for unprecedented second year running

Reef authority says findings of aerial surveys show enough to confirm another mass coral bleaching event, after last year’s dramatic death rate
Joshua Robertson The Guardian 9 Mar 17;

A mass bleaching event is taking its toll on the Great Barrier Reef for an unprecedented second year in a row, a Queensland government agency has confirmed.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has declared widespread damage from an underwater heatwave after a single day of aerial surveys between Cairns and Townsville on Thursday.

The authority’s David Wachenfeld told the ABC the survey findings “regrettably” gave the agency enough evidence to declare another mass bleaching event, following the worst to date in 2016 which killed off 22% of coral.

A repeat of mass bleaching compounds fears for the survival of already-stressed coral, whose recovery since 2016 has been challenged by stubbornly high sea surface temperatures, including through winter.

The scale of bleaching will be confirmed through further surveys by the agency and reef scientists but it is likely to take at least six months before the death rate of coral is known.

Wachenfeld said the agency’s survey added to “quite a few reports through our early warning system, the eye on the reef program”.

While the more remote northern section of the reef was hardest-hit last year, coral bleaching has been recently documented in areas further south more commonly visited by tourists.

Photos and footage taken by marine biologist Brett Monroe Garner at a reef between Port Douglas and Cairns indicate severe bleaching of corals he said were “full of colour and life” little over a month ago.

Garner, who has been documenting the bleaching with Greenpeace, said: “I’ve been photographing this area of the reef for several years now and what we’re seeing is unprecedented.

“In these photos nearly 100% of the corals are bleaching and who knows how many will recover? Algae is already beginning to overgrow many of the corals.

“Just a few months ago, these corals were full of colour and life. Now, everywhere you look is white. The corals aren’t getting the chance to bounce back from last year’s bleaching event. If this is the new normal, we’re in trouble.”

The images, released by Greenpeace on Friday, add to what the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration described last month as reports of “scattered coral bleaching along a large stretch” of the reef, from Mackay in the south to the far north.

Wachenfeld said the extent of bleaching compared to last year was less important than the fact that “the climate is changing and that is bringing a much greater frequency of extreme weather events to the Great Barrier Reef”.

“In total, those extreme weather events and the overall impact of climate change is a major threat to the future of the reef.”

WWF oceans campaigner Richard Leck said he was “shocked and saddened by what is unfolding”.

“Scientists warned that without sufficient emissions reductions we could expect annual mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050,” he said. “Consecutive bleaching events have arrived 30 years early.”

WWF also released footage on Monday of severely bleached coral at Vlassoff Cay near Cairns, where cinematographer Richard Fitzpatrick filmed sequences for David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef series.

“Vlassoff Cay used to have the best coral diversity in the area,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Now with the water sitting at 32 degrees all the way to the bottom, the corals are dying. Many are already dead and covered in algae.”

“The reef is facing an imminent danger of mortality at a level that far exceeds last year over a greater geographical distance.”

Pictures of newly bleached coral were taken in recent weeks at Moore Reef, near Cairns, by the reef scientist Tyrone Ridgway, as well as by divers further south near Palm Island.

The bleaching has prompted Terry Hughes, a leading reef scientist at James Cook University who is also with the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, to embark on a week-long aerial survey of the reef from next Wednesday.

The survey will replicate one last year that drew global attention to the extent of damage to the natural wonder.

He said indications from underwater thermometers were that although sea surface temperatures were lower than this time last year, they had been above average over the last year, including through winter.

Bleaching occurs when warm waters prompt coral to expel algae living within their tissues, turning white.

The coral may die in the six to 12 months after bleaching, meaning the level of mortality on the reef will not be determined until later in the year.

The world heritage-list reef was spared an “in danger” listing by Unesco in 2015 but environmental groups argue it remains on the organisation’s “watch list”.

The Australian and Queensland governments, which are obliged to show how they are jointly managing the reef’s long-term conservation, acknowledge climate change is its main threat.

The Queensland Labor government, which is focused on improving water quality after its bid to pass tree-clearing laws to curb emissions – a key plank of Australia’s reef conservation plan – failed, has urged its federal counterpart to price carbon.

However, the federal environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, at the start of a review of the government’s climate change policies earlier this year, was forced to rule out pricing carbon after a brief internal revolt.

The Greenpeace campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said the Australian and Queensland governments should rethink their support of the giant proposed Adani coalmine, given its potential contribution to climate change.

“We have on our doorstep the clearest signal that climate change is happening, and that governments aren’t moving fast enough to stop it,” Elst said. “Tackling climate change is the only real solution here and that starts by stopping public funding for climate-killing coal projects.”

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