Best of our wild blogs: 12 Sep 17

30th September 2017 (Saturday): Creepy Crawlies and Herpy Derpies!
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Just when did the kelong come to Singapore?
The Long and Winding Road

Javan rhinos face human incursions into their last remaining habitat

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Noise study to guide planning of new homes near Tengah Air Base

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 12 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE — A noise study has been conducted by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to guide the planning of new residential developments around the expanded Tengah Air Base, as part of measures to mitigate “noise inconvenience”, Second Defence Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has also been conducting about half of its flying training overseas, while most of its training here is carried out over water rather than land.

“When the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) flies over populated areas, it is primarily for taking off and landing only,” said Mr Ong.

“The RSAF deliberately flies at higher altitudes and lower air speeds when over land, so as to minimise noise to housing estates. Any deviations from these are usually for operational reasons.”

Mr Ong was responding to questions from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Sun Xueling and Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Alex Yam about the impending phased relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base to Tengah Air Base. Among other things, the two MPs asked about the impact of the move on residents.

Mr Ong noted that “where it is possible and does not compromise operational effectiveness”, the RSAF adjusts its flying schedule in response to public feedback. For example, it reduces flying activities and ceases night flying earlier during examination periods so that students can “better concentrate and rest well”.

The RSAF will inform the public of periods when the frequency of flights is increased, such as rehearsals for the National Day Parade and events such as the RSAF Open House. The air force also publishes prior notice on the Mindef website for public awareness, Mr Ong said.

He reiterated that it would not be possible to reduce noise completely. “Government agencies will do all they can to minimise and mitigate the effects of relocation but we will not trade our continued peace and security for comfort and economic gains. That would be short-sighted and negligent,” he stressed.

The relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base, which will take place from 2030, will free up some 800 hectares of land in the north-east region — an area bigger than Bishan or Ang Mo Kio towns.

Mr Ong noted that the positive effects will extend beyond the land that the facility sits on: Buildings all the way to Marina South can be built higher, thus providing more homes, offices and retail spaces in the central, eastern and southern parts of Singapore.

“The relocation ... will have enormous positive impact on countless families, but most importantly, Singapore as a whole will benefit,” he said.

The relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2013 National Day Rally.

Apart from Tengah Air Base, the Changi Air Base East will also be expanded to accommodate various assets and facilities to replace Paya Lebar Air Base.

Noise study to guide planning of new homes near Tengah Air Base
Jalelah Abu Baker Channel NewsAsia 11 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: A noise study will guide the planning of new flats near the expanded Tengah Air Base to minimise the impact of aircraft noise, said Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Sept 11).

He was responding in Parliament to questions from Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam and Pasir-Ris Punggol MP Sun Xueling on how the relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base to Tengah will affect residents in the respective areas.

Some assets and facilities from Paya Lebar Air Base will be relocated to Changi and Tengah Air Bases in phases from 2019. Homes, offices, and retail spaces are expected to be built on the freed up land and development works will only be completed in 2030 and beyond.

Government agencies like the Housing and Development Board and National Environment Agency are aware of the noise environment that surrounding homes, offices and other premises will be subjected to, he said.

“We ought to be fair to residents who are moving into new premises built near the expanded Tengah Air Base and let them know that while some noise reduction can be achieved through mitigation measures, it is not possible to reduce it completely,” he said.

The relocation will free up will free up 800ha of prime land in the north-east region equivalent to a new town larger than Ang Mo Kio town, he added. The relocation is “complex” as Paya Lebar Air Base now houses one third of the The Republic of Singapore Air Force's fixed-wing squadrons.

These assets together with the operational infrastructure will need to be built up in or moved to the expanded Tengah and Changi airbases, he said.


The RSAF has moved about 50 per cent of its flying training overseas, he said, adding that for the local training, most of the flying is conducted over water rather than over land.

When the RSAF flies over populated areas, it is primarily for taking off and landing only, he added.

“The RSAF deliberately flies at higher altitudes and lower air speeds when over land, so as to minimise noise to housing estates. Any deviations from these are usually for operational reasons,” he said.

He also said the the RSAF does adjust its flying schedule in response to public feedback.

“For example, the RSAF reduces flying activities and ceases night flying earlier during examination periods so that our students can better concentrate and rest well,” he said.

The RSAF will continue to regularly engage residents living near the airbases and continue to explore new ways to minimise the inconveniences to public while meeting its operational and training requirements, he said.


Mr Yam also asked how farmers affected by the land acquisition for the expansion of Tengah Airbase will be assisted and compensated.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said that the four affected owners will receive market value compensation for the acquired land, in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act.

Two ornamental fish farms, a food fish farm and nursery on Murai Farmway are expected to move out by 2019.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority and Nationals Parks Board will also provide support for those who wish to continue their businesses, he added.

“There will be specific officers assigned to each establishment. They will advise owners on relocation options, business development, and technology adoption,” he said.
Source: CNA/ja

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PUB awards contracts for deep tunnel sewerage system

Channel NewsAsia 11 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB on Monday (Sep 11) announced the appointment of three contractors to design and build the second phase of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS).

The three contractors are the joint venture of Penta-Ocean Construction and Koh Brothers Building & Civil Engineering Contractors, Ed Zublin AG and Leighton Contractors.

The DTSS uses deep tunnel sewers to convey used water to water reclamation plants, which is then treated and purified to become NEWater.

The contractors, who were awarded after a pre-qualification and tender exercise in mid-2016, will develop a detailed design and construct 30km of deep tunnels and link sewers as well as the associated ancillary structures.

The three contracts are valued at a total of S$1.51 billion, said PUB.

This will be the first batch of the second phase, which is expected to be completed by 2025. This phase will extend DTSS to cover the western part of Singapore, including the downtown area and major upcoming developments such as Tengah Town.

There are also plans for a NEWater factory to be integrated with the Tuas water reclamation plant to facilitate water recycling.

Once Phase 2 is completed, the existing conventional water recycling plants at Ulu Pandan and Jurong, as well as intermediate pumping stations, will be progressively phased out and the land freed up, PUB said.

"The DTSS ensures the sustainability and resilience of the used water network to facilitate large-scale water recycling in Singapore, and contributes to the goal of increasing the overall water recycling rate from 40 per cent to up to 55 per cent of total water demand in the long term," said Mr Yong Wei Hin, director of the project at PUB.
Source: CNA/ad

Contracts given for Phase 2 of deep-tunnel sewer system
Jose Hong Straits Times 11 Sep 17;

PUB, Singapore's national water agency, appointed three contractors yesterday to design and build the first batch of deep tunnels and link sewers for the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) Phase 2.

Over the next seven years, the three contractors will design and construct about 30km of deep tunnels and link sewers, as well as their supporting structures.

Construction will begin at the end of this year. In total, the contracts are worth $1.51 billion.

The three contractors are the Singapore branch of Ed Zublin AG, a joint venture between Penta-Ocean Construction and Koh Brothers Building & Civil Engineering Contractor, and the Singapore branch of Leighton Contractors (Asia).

Their work will be part of a network of 40km of deep tunnels and 60km of link sewers for DTSS Phase 2.

The contracts for the rest of the network will be awarded from next year. By its expected completion in 2025, the DTSS will be connected to the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant. The DTSS will then transport used water from the whole of Singapore into three centralised water reclamation plants for treatment.

There, the water will either undergo more purification to make Newater, or it will be discharged into the sea.

Mr Yong Wei Hin, director of DTSS Phase 2 at PUB, said: "As the backbone of Newater production, the DTSS ensures the sustainability and resilience of the used-water network to facilitate large-scale water recycling in Singapore."

He added that this "contributes to the goal of increasing the overall water-recycling rate from 40 per cent to up to 55 per cent of total water demand in the long term"

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Malaysia: Counting on big tuna catch

The Star 12 Sep 17;

BUTTERWORTH: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry hopes to achieve a nationwide catch of 130,000 tonnes of tuna worth RM1bil, cumulatively from now until 2020.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the ministry, through the Fisheries Department’s efforts, is also looking forward to catching RM300mil worth of tuna from the Indian Ocean alone over the same period, by issuing licences to 135 vessels.

“The ministry, through the Fisheries Department, has issued licences to 17 vessels and approved 93 permits for companies to buy or build new fishing vessels.

“The majority of tuna caught in Malaysia at present are of the skipjack and longtail species, and we are hoping to increase the landing of deep-sea species such as bigeye, albacore and yellowfin,” he said at a tuna landing ceremony at Dermaga Air Dalam here yesterday.

“As of early September, 1,100 tonnes of the fish have been landed in Penang, so achieving the target is possible, through the combined efforts of the public and private sector.

“Malaysia has two ports registered with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), namely Dermaga Air Dalam and Tanjung Lembung in Langkawi, Kedah,” he said.

The IOTC is an intergovernmental body that coordinates the management of tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean.

Earlier, Ahmad Shabery also witnessed the landing of 520 tonnes of albacore, yellowfin and bigeye tuna worth RM8mil from a vessel owned by Kha Yang Marine Sdn Bhd.

Also present were Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, Fisheries Department director-general Munir Mohd Nawi and Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia deputy director-general Hashim Rahman.

Shabery confident Penang Port will achieve this year's tuna fish haul target
MOHAMED BASYIR New Straits Times 11 Sep 17;

BUTTERWORTH: The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries targets a total of 3,000 metric tonnes of tuna fish to be landed at the Penang Port here by year’s end.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek told newsmen that the goal is attainable, as to date, 1,100 metric tonnes of tuna has been landed at the port.

"The Ministry's target is achievable considering how much has been landed here, with the help of the federal government and the private sector.

"The 3,000 metric tonnes of tuna fish (we are aiming for is) valued at RM60 million," he said at the launch of the tuna fish landing at Dermaga Air Dalam Penang Port by Kha Yang 333 vessel today.

Shabery said that the Ministry is also confident of reaching the 130,000 metric tonnes of tuna fish target, valued at RM1 billion, to be landed in Malaysia, including at the port in Labuan, by the year 2020.

Also present during the event were Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng and Fisheries Department director Datuk Munir Mohd Nawi.

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Malaysia: Sabahan gets US conservation award

ruben sario The Star 12 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabahan wildlife conservationist focused on preserving the highly endangered pangolins has been named a recipient of the Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Award.

Elisa Panjang, 33, was among five wildlife conservationists from Africa, Asia and South America named for the award.

According to the Houston Zoo website, the award is to honour outstanding conservationists from developing countries instrumental in protecting their local wildlife.

The zoo, the second most visited in the United States with 2.55 million visitors, supports over a dozen conservation projects around the world.

“The award will definitely raise the profile of the pangolin locally as well as internationally. The zoo recognised the importance of pangolin research in our country. Malaysia should do the same by supporting local researchers,” said Elisa, thanking DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens for nominating her.

“I hope that this international recognition will inspire our youths to get involved in science and conservation issues,” she said.

Dr Goossens said the visit to the rescue centre would enable the Sandakan-born Elisa to learn more about its captive breeding programme.

“I believe that a captive breeding programme of pangolins in Sabah will be one of the solutions to save them from extinction,” he said of the animal, widely known as the most trafficked mammal in the world.

“We don’t have data to show their decline but the reality is that it is almost impossible to survey pangolins in the wild.

“They rarely appear in our camera traps,” said Dr Goossens.

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Indonesia: Government formulates regulation to encourage ships to manage waste

Antara 6 Sep 17;

Kuta, Bali, (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government is currently preparing a regulation to encourage fishing boats and sightseeing ships to manage garbage, including plastic waste, in a bid to curb pollution at sea.

"We affirm and strengthen law enforcement for the existing regulation. Ships for fishing and tourism purposes are obligated to have trash cans," Deputy of Human Resources, Maritime Technology, and Culture of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Safri Burhanuddin stated after delivering a speech at the East Asia Conference for combating plastic waste held in Kuta, Badung District, Bali, on Wednesday.

According to Burhanuddin, one of the sources of plastic waste came from both small and large fishing and sightseeing ships.

Currently, the regulation is being formulated by the relevant agencies and is targeted to be completed in October 2017 in the form of a presidential regulation.

Based on the regulation being established, he said notification letters will be issued and addressed to the technical ministries and local governments in order to necessitate every ship to be able to manage its waste, especially plastic garbage.

"When the ships return to land, they have to bring their garbage home. If they do not follow the procedure, then it implies they might have thrown their garbage into the sea," he said.

He stated that Indonesia is committed to reducing 70 percent of its plastic waste at sea before 2025. Hence, cooperation among all parties, including from within and abroad, needs to be encouraged.

He said education is one of the key ways to encouraging the public to take care of the environment by at least reducing or managing plastic waste, as 80 percent of it came from the mainland.

"Most of the waste in the ocean is brought by the river. Hence, district and city governments need to control waste on land," he remarked.

He lauded the various parties, including business players in Indonesia, that have applied waste management and recycled garbage into high-value products.

The government is also promoting a policy of converting waste into a source of energy.

Currently, 15 cities in Indonesia, including Denpasar, Bali, are participating in a study to manage plastic waste at sea, including the use of asphalt in a road construction project at the Udayana University.

Reported by Dewa Wiguna

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Australia: Century of die-offs takes toll on reef-building coral in central Great Barrier Reef

Bianca Nogrady ABC News 12 Sep 17;

Key points
* Little is known about the past coral mortality before the advent of long-term monitoring in the 1980s.
Analysis of dead corals in central Great Barrier Reef links mortality to a series of events occurring in the 1920s and 1960s and again in the 1980s and 1990s.
* Study suggests loss of resilience of hard corals, which once dominated the reef.
* Chemical dating of the Great Barrier Reef's sensitive branching corals reveals a history of massive die-offs over the past century, particularly in the past 30 years, from which these corals have not recovered.

The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggests the die-offs happened in conjunction with significant natural and anthropogenic events, such as large-scale weather patterns and changes in land use since European settlement.

The findings could also mean the effects of more recent bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 have been underestimated because of the long-lasting impacts of earlier die-offs, said lead researcher Tara Clark, a marine palaeoecologist at the University of Queensland and Griffith University.

Dr Clark said growing evidence suggested the Great Barrier Reef is in decline, but information about disruption events and the how the reef responds to stress only goes back around 30 years.

To understand how the reef had changed over a longer period of time, Dr Clark and colleagues dated samples of dead Acropora branching corals from a number of sites around the Palm Islands in the central Great Barrier Reef.

The technique — which is used to estimate when the coral died — allowed researchers to look back over a century of coral activity.

While earlier studies suggested branching corals were common in many parts of the reef, Dr Clark said their team's surveys showed these reef builders now make up less than 5 per cent of the coral population at the sites studied.

"There were some skeletons we picked up that were huge — the branches were as thick as your arm, these were massive branching corals so that's a very different shift in terms of community structure at a lot of these places," she said.

One site in particular — Pelorus Island — experienced a huge die-off of branching coral between the 1920s and 1950s.

Dr Clark said there weren't many environmental records from that time, but the die-off may have been caused by a combination of a shift towards a wetter weather pattern and an increase in sugar cane plantations and grazing in the area.

"What we suspect is there was potentially a lot of land clearing going on, you get this shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, with huge rainfall and a huge amount of sediment being delivered out the Herbert River, just north of Pelorus Island," she said.

"Because Pelorus is the closest reef to the Herbert River, it's possible that these plumes came out and wiped them out then, and they've not been able to recover."

Instead, the reef is now dominated by algae, and small stony coral known as Pavona.

At the other four sites, the die-offs were more recent, taking place between 1970 and 2000.

In particular, there were peaks in coral death that corresponded to mass bleaching events that occurred with warmer sea surface temperatures around 1983, 1987, 1994 and 1998.

Dr Clark said what was most worrying was that at many of these 'death assemblages' of dead coral, there was very little sign of living Acropora, suggesting that these more sensitive coral species have not bounced back.

"I think it's cause for concern because if there was nothing [living] there, then the impact of these larger bleaching events that happened more recently [in 2016 and 2017] has been underrepresented and underestimated," she said.

She said long-term monitoring programs are critical to understanding of how the state of coral has changed over time.

"Being able to use these methods to look at disturbance and recovery and work out which reefs are vulnerable, which haven't come back from some of these disturbances, is really important," she said.

Coral loss on Palm Islands long precedes 2016 mass bleaching on Great Barrier Reef

Extensive loss of branching corals and changes in coral community structure in Australia's Palm Islands region over the past century has been revealed in a new study.

Dr Tara Clark of The University of Queensland Radiogenic Isotope Facility in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said these corals were highly sensitive to environmental change.

She said the area in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef warranted close monitoring to avoid irreversible changes in ecosystem health.

"Hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef is on a trajectory of decline," Dr Clark said.

"Yet, little is known about past coral mortality before long-term monitoring began around the 1980s to give us a long-term picture of what has happened since European colonisation of the coast."

Dr Clark said the limited baseline information of ecological dynamics before the 1980s made it difficult to understand recent ecosystem trends.

"Our study demonstrates the use of high-resolution uranium-thorium dating, modern and palaeoecological techniques to improve our understanding of coral mortality and recovery dynamics over much broader time scales," she said.

"At a regional scale we found a loss of resilience in ecologically important branching Acropora corals - formerly dominant key framework builders - with recovery severely lagging behind predictions."

Dr Clark said the study found the timing of Acropora coral death to have occurred simultaneously among reefs in the Palm Islands, coinciding with major disturbance events, such as bleaching and flooding, in the 1920s to 1960s and again in the 1980s to 1990s.

"Surveys conducted in 2014 revealed low Acropora cover - less than five per cent - across all sites, with very little evidence of recovery for up to 60 years at some sites, thus there was little left in this region for the 2016 bleaching event to kill." she said.

Together with previous research, the indication was the recent condition of the inshore Great Barrier Reef was a "shifted baseline" - already degraded before long-term monitoring took place. Taking together all such previous undocumented loss, the true picture is probably far worse than that depicted in previous reports of the 2016 mortality event.

This in turn strongly supported the importance of robust management action to reduce human impacts on reefs, especially efforts to reduce sediment and nutrient delivery to reef waters, in order to buy time for the reefs to recover before the next major disturbance event.

"The findings of this study will also prove valuable to reef managers by providing a reliable baseline for ongoing monitoring and identifying reefs at risk for deterioration, especially for those where modern observations are lacking," Dr Clark said.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences project leader Professor Jian-xin Zhao said Dr Clark should be commended for her contributions to protect Australia's national icon, the Great Barrier Reef.

"Most of the work was done during her PhD studies or as part of a National Environmental Research Program project when she was a postdoctoral fellow," Professor Zhao said.

"This paper, together with two other papers published in Scientific Reports and Nature Communications in the past year, were published when Tara relied on casual administration and technical roles for a living, so this work is really an amazing achievement."

The study involved researchers from UQ's School of Biological Sciences,


Australian Institute of Marine Science, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) (doi:10.1073/pnas.1705351114).

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UK wind electricity cheaper than nuclear: data

Roland JACKSON AFP Yahoo News 12 Sep 17;

London (AFP) - The price of electricity from offshore wind in Britain has dipped below the level guaranteed to Hinkley Point, raising questions about the construction of the vast nuclear power station.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy disclosed Monday the results of auctions for state subsidies for three new wind offshore farms.

Denmark's DONG Energy won the auction to build Hornsea Two, which will become the world's biggest offshore wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire in northern England.

Germany's Innogy and Norway's Statkraft won the auction for Triton Knoll off Lincolnshire in eastern England, while Moray in Scotland was won by a consortium comprising EDP Renovaveis of Portugal and ENGIE of France.

"The projects, which are set to generate over three gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 3.6 million homes, demonstrate that the UK continues to be an attractive place to invest in clean energy," the department said in a statement.

The companies lodged bids for the so-called "strike price" they will be paid by the state for electricity generated, with the lowest amounts securing the deals.

Those prices have tumbled to £74.75 (82.36 euros, $98.52) per megawatt hour for projects deliverable in 2021/2022, and to £57.50 for projects due in 2022/2023.

- 'Nail in the coffin' -

The price of offshore wind has fallen far below that of nuclear, with the planned Hinkley Point C power plant in southwestern England having secured subsidies of £92.50 per megawatt hour.

The gigantic Hinkley project was awarded to a French-Chinese consortium -- led by French giant EDF -- last year but has been plagued by long delays and cost overruns.

"Today's results mean that both onshore and offshore wind are cheaper than gas and nuclear," noted trade body RenewableUK in a statement on Monday.

However, the Nuclear Industry Association cautioned in another statement that "one technology alone can't solve the UK's power challenge".

Wind and solar production have the drawback of being unpredictable, with countries needing to call on gas, coal or nuclear plants to raise output if there is no breeze or sun.

British government wind power subsidies have now halved since the last auction was held in 2015.

Environmentalists have long urged the government to focus on renewable sources like wind and solar power to meet Britain's energy needs.

Opponents have criticised the high guaranteed Hinkley price level, which is fixed over 35 years and rises with inflation.

Lawmaker Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said the massive price drop for offshore wind should be the "nail in the coffin" for new nuclear power.

"The government's undying commitment to new nuclear risks locking us into sky-high prices for years to come," Lucas warned.

- 'Big step forward' -

Meanwhile, Michael Ware, partner at BDO's corporate finance division, said Monday's announcement raised questions over the future of tidal and wave energy -- which are more costly.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the low price bids in the latest auction," Ware told AFP, describing it a "vindication" of government policy.

"However, it does beg the obvious question of where a £57.50 strike price leaves other nascent technologies, such as tidal and wave, which are probably not economically viable at that level.

"It also puts the (price) being paid for Hinkley Point into sharp perspective."

Nevertheless, Ware added it was "a big step forward in the transition to a renewable (energy) grid".

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