Large stock of fishes found dead in the sea cage near Johor Straits.

Malaysia: Large numbers of dead fish found near Tanjung Kupang
By Low Sock Ken, 8th March 2015;

Large numbers of fish were found dead in sea cages near Tanjung Kupang here last week, dealing a blow to fish breeders who said the losses had severely impacted their income.

DAP state assemblyman for Pengkalan Rinting Cheo Yee How said initial losses was estimated at RM1 million and urged the related authorities to render help to the affected fish breeders.

Fish breeder, Goh Lai Soon, 37, said the occurrence of the dead fish began sometime in early March.

Goh who has been breeding fish for seven years, said the red tide phenomenon was over last month and was not a likely cause for the large numbers of dead fish in the area.

He said fish breeders in the area were puzzled, as they had taken prevention measures to mitigate the impact of plankton bloom that always triggered a massive amount of fish deaths.

Goh said he had no choice but to stop his fish breeding business for now due to the losses sustained.

He said samples of the dead fish and water have yet to be submitted to the Gelang Patah Fisheries Department for analysis.

There are about twenty sea cage fish farmers along the Johor Straits near Tanjung Kupang.

Source: The Sun Daily

The fish in the photo might be Four-finger Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum).

Gills of the fish are darkened due to “red tide”. (Photo: Frank Tan, Marine Life Aquaculture)

Fish farmers affected by fish deaths will receive help from AVA
AVA is working with external agencies, companies and experts to help fish farmers recover their operations after the sudden mass deaths of their fish stocks last month.
By Saifulbahri Ismail, 5th March 2015;

Fish farmers affected by the recent fish deaths will get help to recover and restart their operations, as well as increase their resilience against environmental challenges.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will help farmers take early action to mitigate the impact of plankton bloom by putting in place robust contingency plans. It is also working with external agencies, companies and experts to look into possible solutions to minimise the impact of plankton bloom in the long term.

It recently contracted five companies to work on systems that offer a sustainable option for coastal fish farms, to minimise exposure to environmental changes.

Last month, many local farms at the East Johor Straits were affected by a plankton bloom that triggered a massive amount of fish deaths.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

A plankton bloom at the weekend killed 120 tonnes of fish at Marine Life Aquaculture. Photo by Mark Cheong

Fish farms may move from Changi after mass deaths
Some eyeing sites with stronger tides, while others plan to install protection
By Carolyn Khew, 4th March 2015;

After a plankton bloom at the weekend wiped out almost all their stocks of fish, some farmers in Changi are looking at moving to sites with stronger tide conditions.

Others told The Straits Times they planned to invest in more costly closed containment systems that would be protected from such blooms, which can suffocate marine life. The systems cost a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

The weekend incident was a blow to farms still trying to recover from a similarly devastating bloom a year ago. One of them, Ah Hua Kelong, went online to appeal for donations to help it meet its daily running costs.

Mr Frank Tan, chief operating officer of Marine Life Aquaculture, which produces about 200 tonnes of Sea Bass (Barramundi) (Lates calcarifer) and threadfin (Four-finger Threadfin) (ELeutheronema tetradactylum) annually, said he had planned to move to two sites – one on Pulau Tekong and the other on the Southern Islands – following last year’s incident, which wiped out 20 tonnes of his fish.

Last Saturday’s bloom killed 120 tonnes of his fish.

“We spent the past year rebuilding our business and were planning to move only in about a few years’ time. We didn’t expect another plankton bloom so soon,” said Mr Tan, 40. He said he had spent almost a million dollars rebuilding his business.

Yesterday, he was still busy directing staff to bag and remove the dead fish.

Following the authorities’ warnings, he had managed to save a few hundred adult fish by moving them to an offshore site located near his Changi farm.

Mr Tan said he will be ready to move in one to two months. He estimates the tides at Pulau Tekong to have a water flow rate three times stronger than those at Changi, so stronger support structures need to be built for the farm.

Fin Fisher owner Timothy Hromatka, 42, is not discounting a move to Pulau Tekong, but estimates he would need $500,000 to do so. “Tekong is farther away (from the mainland), and this means higher operational costs.”

The smell of rotting fish was strong around the fish farms, located near the Lorong Halus jetty, yesterday as workers continued to dispose of the dead fish.

As of October last year, home-grown farms contributed about 7 per cent to the industry, producing fish like Sea Bass and Grouper (SubF. Epinephelinae) as well as lobsters (F. Palinuridae).

Plankton blooms are caused by factors such as warmer weather and a neap tide, when the high tide is at its lowest.

Some farmers such as Mr Malcolm Ong, chief executive of The Fish Farmer, who is in his 50s, are looking at farming under controlled conditions to protect their stocks from such unpredictable blooms.

But another farmer, Mr Simon Oh, in his 60s, said the systems can be challenging to install. He lost all 35 tonnes of his pomfret last week. “I have no funds to restart my business, much less invest in such equipment,” he said.

Source: The Straits Times

Thousand of dead fishes, including catfish and puffer fish, washed up at Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28, 2015. Photo: Wild Shores of Singapore

Lab test sheds further light on fish deaths
Suspected type of algae not toxic to humans
By Neo Chai Chin, 4th March 2015;

Laboratory tests of a seawater sample taken off Pasir Ris have zeroed in on the type of algae that wiped out massive quantities of farmed and wild fish in recent days.

The species of algae behind the mass fish deaths off Pasir Ris likely belongs to the Gymnodinium group. It is suspected to be Gymnodinium mikimotoi, according to the experts at DHI Water & Environment, but the exact species can only be confirmed through further genetic tests. Gymnodinium mikimotoi, also known as Karenia mikimotoi, is not toxic to humans, but has been associated with massive kills of wild and farmed fishes in Japan and Korea.

TODAY commissioned the laboratory test yesterday (March 3) using a water sample provided by a fish farmer operating off Pasir Ris. The sample was taken last Saturday when most affected fish farmers reported the sudden deaths of their stocks.

The test showed concentrations of the algae at 88,529 cells per millilitre – a “very, very high” concentration, according to Dr Hans Eikaas, head of environmental technology and chemistry at DHI, a not-for-profit group offering consultancy and water-modelling services.

Concentrations above 10,000 cells per millilitre are considered a full algal bloom by any international standard, he said. Seawater in normal conditions contain 200 to 300 cells per millilitre and comprise 100 or more different plankton species. Dr Eikaas said the algae bloom was the main cause of the fish deaths, with the algae likely clogging up the gills of the fish.

But ammonia in the seawater probably magnified the scale of fish deaths. Ammonia is a waste product of fish, and is also produced when bacteria decomposes organic matter without oxygen. More ammonia is produced when water is warm, and when there is more organic matter, such as when algae dies. In gas form, it is toxic to fish and can cause convulsions and death, said Dr Eikaas.

Water rich in ammonia and nitrogen is advantageous to algae in the Gymnodinium group. Warm water, which the Republic has seen in recent weeks, also stresses fish out. These factors mean “multiple blows” dealt to the marine life, Dr Eikaas said.

“I would assume ammonia building up could have caused sub-lethal toxicity to the fish – mainly, their gills get inflamed. Then algae doubles every 24 hours… (and the deaths) appear like a sudden event,” he explained. The algae would have taken about a week to bloom to the level shown in the lab test, he added.

If the suspected species is indeed the Gymnodinium mikimotoi, the algae is not known to cause any effect to humans who have eaten affected fish, Dr Eikaas said. Associate Professor Lim Po Teen of the University of Malaya’s Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences said nutrient-rich coastal waters from human activities are believed to be the triggers of algal blooms. Another source of the problem is the introduction of algae species through ships’ ballast water. Efforts to mitigate harmful algal blooms so far include setting up perimeters at aquaculture farms and reduced feeding of farmed fishes, he said.

Dr Eikaas said the recent harmful algal bloom is a natural occurrence that is almost impossible to prevent, but with a monitoring system and simulation forecasting programme, it is not impossible to get a heads-up on. “With regular daily monitoring, we should have had several days’ lead time on this,” he said.

According to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the United States, Gymnodinium mikimotoi is associated with recurring blooms off the coasts of Japan and Korea and are associated with massive fish and shellfish kills. Blooms have also been reported in Australia, Denmark, Norway and Scotland.

Farmers contacted yesterday said they have spent recent days clearing dead fish from their farms. Some expressed hope that the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority would provide financial assistance, while others said they would relocate if given the chance. Fish farmer Simon Ho said his entire stock of over 30 tonnes of Silver Pomfret (Pampus sp.) was wiped out. Marine Life Aquaculture chief operating officer Frank Tan said the company’s offshore operations lost 120 tonnes of Four-finger Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) and Sea Bass (Lates calcarifer). The company had previously identified two sites – near the Southern Islands and Pulau Tekong – as possible areas to move to, but Mr Tan said that with different conditions such as bigger tidal waves, a move would entail a change of operations and re-investment.

Source: TODAY

Photos by Frank Tan of Marine Life Aquaculture

Large stocks of fish wiped out by plankton blooms
Several fish farmers in the East have seen large stocks of their fish wiped out after the coast was hit by a tide containing huge plankton blooms.
28th February 2015;

Several fish farmers in the East saw large stocks of their fish wiped out early Saturday (Feb 28) morning after the coast was hit by a tide containing huge plankton blooms.

When this happens fish have to compete with the micro-organisms for oxygen, which could cause them to die.

Philip Lim, who owns three fish farms, said: “It’s huge. It’ll cost me about S$50,000. All the fishes have come in just about three months ago, some of them just came in one month ago.”

Mr Lim sent Channel NewsAsia videos of the scene on Saturday, saying his entire stock of fish was either dead or dying.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) had said in a statement on Friday that it would monitor the situation, and work closely with the fish farmers to mitigate the situation.

It had warned the farmers early last week after detecting elevated plankton levels in the area, said AVA.

AVA has also deployed waste disposal vessels to assist farmers in the disposal of dead fish at the East Johor Straits caused by the elevated plankton levels.

On Feb 18, coastal fish farms at the Straits reported dead fish in the area. Since then, AVA has been visiting the fish farmers to ascertain the situation, offer advice to them to mitigate the situation, such as canvas-bagging, and collecting fish samples from the affected farms for analyses.

AVA said some farms have carried out emergency harvest of the fish in view of the elevated plankton levels.

It had earlier reported that laboratory tests conducted did not detect marine biotoxins in the fish. AVA said fish harvested from local farms are safe for consumption.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

The bottom photo shows a closeup of several dead Four-finger Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum). The news clip on the Channel NewsAsia site showed footage of a floating fish cage full of dead Snubnose Pompano (Trachinotus blochii), as well as a dying Spotted Sicklefish (Drepane punctata).

AVA support for farmers hit by mass fish deaths
By Grace Chua, 14th February 2014;

Fish farmers affected by the recent mass fish deaths do not have to worry about missing mandated productivity targets, said Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman, during a visit to coastal fish farms on Thursday.

Their losses will be considered when their production is counted, and they can turn the setback into a chance to improve their farms, said Dr Maliki, who met several farmers during his visit to two farms off Changi affected by mass die-offs.

In all, 34 farms in the eastern Johor Strait and five in the west Johor Strait have lost some 160 tonnes of fish so far. The die-offs were attributed to low levels of dissolved oxygen and a plankton bloom due to hot weather and neap tides, when high tides are at their lowest, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

While fish farms must produce 17 tonnes of fish per half hectare of farm space to keep their licences, Dr Maliki said “it’s only fair that we tell the farmers it’s okay, we look at how much losses you have suffered this time round, your productivity performance will be measured in line with the losses you have suffered”.

The affected farms were also rearing fish more vulnerable to poor conditions, such as Grouper (F. Serranidae), Golden Trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus) and Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum), he added. Singapore’s farms produce about 6 per cent of the fish consumed here, the AVA said.

But fish in the market are safe to eat: the dead fish have all been disposed of properly, he said.

Dr Maliki, who is also South East District mayor, said the South East CDC would offer support to the families of affected Singaporean farmers and workers.

He said the authorities would also help fish farmers tap a $30 million AVA fund meant for boosting food production here, to improve aeration systems for example. But farmers must pay for equipment up front first, then submit receipts to get reimbursements.

Farmer Goh Joo Hiang, 60, who had lost up to $200,000 worth of fish, said the losses should also factor in next year’s productivity targets. “Even if we bought two-inch fry now, it would take a year to raise them.”

Meanwhile, the dry spell since mid-January has meant that more water has to be pumped into reservoirs.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that water agency PUB has been running Singapore’s desalination and Newater plants “at close to full capacity”. The two desalination plants here can meet up to a quarter of Singapore’s water needs, with a combined output of 100 million gallons per day (mgd).

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Mr Teh Aik Hua showing Dr Maliki Osman dead fish at his farm. He estimated that his total losses amounted to more than S$1 million. Photo: Ernest Chua

AVA to ‘mitigate’ farmers’ targets in light of fish deaths
By Kenneth Tan, 14th February 2014;

It has been a tale of woe for 39 fish farms along the Johor Straits, but Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) stands ready to help farmers affected by one of the biggest mass fish deaths in recent years, as well as to prevent future incidents.

Farmers had in the wake of last weekend’s incident raised concerns over whether they could meet the minimum production target of 17 tonnes of fish per half-hectare space, which is part of AVA’s licensing conditions for coastal fish farms.

Speaking to reporters yesterday after visiting two farms off Changi, Dr Maliki said this year’s assessment may be mitigated. “If this year’s assessment … is affected by such a situation, then it is only fair we will tell the farmers, ‘It’s okay, we will mitigate, we will look at how much losses you have incurred … your productivity, the performance we measured in line with the losses you suffered’,” he added.

In all, about 160 tonnes of fish were reported to have died. Two of the farmers whom Dr Maliki visited reported suffering massive losses. Mr Teh Aik Hua of Kelong FC 117 estimated that his total losses amounted to more than S$1 million. “60 tonnes of my 70 tonnes of fish have died,” he said. Mr Teh said he hopes the AVA will be able to help his farm back on to its feet, by offering subsidies for business expenses.

Dr Maliki noted that the dead fish included species such as Groupers (F. Serranidae), Threadfin (Eleutheronema tetradactylum) and Golden Trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus), which are the most susceptible to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the waters or a plankton bloom or both, as well as the hot weather. While this “is a very adverse situation”, the incident could help to improve farming methods and technology to prevent future recurrence, he added.

Dr Maliki also assured Singaporeans that fish on sale at markets here is safe for consumption as all the dead fish have been disposed appropriately. The AVA had collected samples from the affected farms for laboratory analysis, but no marine biotoxins were detected.

The impact to food supply will be minimal, the AVA added. In 2012, local farms produced about 5,100 tonnes of fish consumed here, but Singapore imported about 104,000 tonnes of fish from 75 sources.

Source: TODAY (Mirror)