Mass fish deaths raise concerns about safety
Hundreds of dead fish wash up on the shores of Pasir Ris Beach in Singapore. Although authorities say fish harvested from local farms are safe for consumption, some members of the public are wary.
By Pichayada Promchertchoo, 2nd March 2015;
On Monday (Mar 2), Singaporeans woke up to find the palm-fringed beach of Pasir Ris covered with hundreds of dead fish.
Frequented by families, the long sandy stretch that separates a 70-hectare park in eastern Singapore from the sea was nearly deserted, as many visitors had been driven off by the foul stench of countless rotten marine wildlife, washed ashore the previous night.
“It’s really not nice. We have a baby and we want the baby to walk on the beach. But today, we can’t do that. It’s very dirty and smells terrible,” complained mother-of-one Christine, who said she normally visits the beach park with her young son twice a day. “This is the first time we see dead fish on the beach.”
Over the weekend, mass fish deaths were reported along the eastern Johor Straits. According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the incident is a result of gill damage caused by plankton – micro-organisms found in the seawater that can multiply quickly in a short period of time.
The phenomenon is known as “plankton bloom”, which can be triggered by unpredictable weather, high concentrations of nutrients in the seawater, and poor water exchange between the high and low tides.
So far, no marine biotoxin has been detected in any of the fish collected by AVA, whose laboratory tests suggested fish harvested from local farms are safe for consumption.
MORE DEAD FISH
Still, the sight of dead marine creatures along Singapore’s shoreline has raised concern about the safety of eating locally bred fish.
This morning, Mr Ramle Samaa was planning to catch some fish but had to change his mind when he spotted hundreds of dead fish lying across Pasir Ris Beach.
“My hobby is fishing. Today, I decided not to go, because when I went to the beach, I saw a lot of dead fish. So I think it’s not healthy to get a fish at the moment,” he explained. “It’s not one, but a few hundred. So, it’s not healthy”.
His concern was echoed by one of the cleaners at the beach park, Mr Shafiq Daniel Lau. Although the mass mortality of fish in Singapore is nothing new to him, the number of dead fish this year has made him worried. “I’m very concerned. This year is very bad. In the last two years, I was working here but there weren’t as many dead fish. This year, there are many,” he said.
Local fish farmers affected by the plankton bloom said this year’s phenomenon is worse than that of the previous year. In 2014, 39 fish farms along the East and West Johor Straits experienced mass deaths of their marine animals, when close to 160 tonnes of fish were found dead. The deaths were reportedly caused by a plankton bloom and low level of dissolved oxygen in the seawater.
Source: Channel NewsAsia