A resident secures one of the 15 dead Giant Stingrays found floating in front of Wat Khu Thamsathit in Khlong Bangkantaek, which is linked to the Maeklong River in Samut Songkhram’s Muang district.
Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Thailand: Stingray deaths spur checks
Pollution dept orders toxic discharge tests
By Apinya Wipatayotin, 12 October 2016;

Wastewater discharged from factories is likely to be behind a sudden spike in deaths of Giant Freshwater Stingrays (Urogymnus polylepis) in Samut Songkhram, but lab test results may not be able to provide a link to the culprits, says the Department of Pollution Control.

A lab test is needed to clarify the source of chemicals or toxic substances that killed the Rays and is expected on Friday, said Wicharn Simachaya, the department’s chief.

His team collected samples of water and sediment from different spots along the Mae Klong River, from Samut Songkhram to Kanchanaburi, for tests to identify heavy metals and chemicals that might point to the cause of the unusual deaths.

At least 15 Stingrays have been found dead since Sept 29.

Even with the lab findings, it will be impossible to single out the factory that discharged the wastewater, he said.

“Most factories are using the same chemicals, so it’s difficult to point to a wrongdoer,” he added.

The high death rate prompted authorities to collect more samples from nearby Don Hoi Lot, a local source of Razor Clams (Solen sp.), which have also started dying.

Meanwhile, Nantarika Chansue, a vet from Chulalongkorn University who disclosed the spike in deaths of the rare species of Rays on her Facebook, insisted tests showed the cause of the deaths was not natural, citing findings by the Animal Health Institute that found toxic contamination in the livers and kidneys of some of the dead Stingrays.

Toxins were found at 20 times the normal level which showed the kidney had to work hard to get rid of the toxin from their bodies, she said.

Three survivors being nursed also showed similar symptoms of being paralysed, resulting from toxic contamination.

“We can’t tell what kind of factory released the toxins, but it was clear the toxins were not from the farming sector because the amount of contamination was too high,” she said. She also ruled out natural causes as too many of the Rays had died.

She was concerned the Stingrays kept dying, as there are only about 150 left in the river.

Local communities believed the death was caused by sugar and ethanol-producing factories in Ratchaburi’s Ban Pong district.

An ethanol plant in Ratchaburi admitted that one of its waste water pipes broke, leading to wastewater discharges into the river. It is in the process of fixing it.

It said the incident happened on Sept 30, but the Stingrays started to die a few days before that. However, locals argued the leak started long before the factory claims.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered officials to find out the cause of the Stingrays deaths, saying the Rays should be conserved as they are an indicator of the condition of the river.

Officials were also instructed to look into the cause of the deaths of fish raised in baskets and take care of the fish farmers, the premier said.

Samut Songkhram governor Kanchat Tansatien said he instructed agencies to collect samples of water and sediment in four locations along the river to find out the cause of the deaths.

The locations which Stingrays regularly inhabit are near Wat Phet Samut Worawihan, Somdet Phra Buddha Loetla Nabhalai Bridge, both in Muang district, Somdet Phra Srisuriyendra Bridge in Amphawa district and Amarin Tharamat Bridge in Bang Khonthi district.

Referring to the mass deaths of Razor Clams in the province, Mr Kanchat said water quality was likely to be the cause. Tests would be conducted.

Source: Bangkok Post

Thailand: VMARC reveals stingray deaths triggered by toxic waste
12th October 2016;

The Veterinary Medical Aquatic animal Research Center (VMARC) revealed that massive Giant Freshwater Stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) deaths in the Mae Khlong River in Samut Songkhram were caused by toxic waste.

VMRAC Director Nantarika Chansue said lab results revealed that it was likely that the fish were killed by toxic waste from factories. She claimed their deaths were not triggered by natural causes.

Dr. Nantarika said even though it was not clear what type of toxic waste was found inside the fish, it was certainly not the kind that could be found in the nature. At least 50 Stingrays were killed in the river.

Pollution Control Department Director General Wijarn Simachaya said authorities will be able to identify the origin of toxic chemicals when more test results are released this Friday.

Legal actions are expected to be taken against responsible factories. Samut Songkhram Governor Kanchat Tansatien has instructed relevant agencies to investigate the cause of Stingray deaths.

Mr. Kanchat also said the recent massive deaths of Razor Clams (Solen sp.) in Don Hoi Lot were caused by algal blooms, not the same toxic waste water that killed the Stingrays. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a quick probe into the problem as it is a direct threat to the ecosystem.

Source: National News Bureau of Thailand

Thailand: Razor Clams dying at Don Hoi Lot; more dead Rays found
By Chularat Saengpassa, 11th October 2016;

Razor Clams (Solen sp.) are dying off in the famous tourist attraction of Don Hoi Lot river delta in Samut Songkhram province, near the same area where dozens of Giant Freshwater Stingrays (Himantura polylepis) were recently found dead.

The number of dead Stingrays found in the Mae Klong River, which runs through Samut Songkhram and nearby Ratchaburi province, now stands at 45, Samut Songkhram’s fisheries chief Utai Singtothong said, as three more carcasses were found yesterday.

Water pollution – the suspected cause of the Stingray deaths – already has taken a toll on the Don Hoi Lot river delta.

“Water has turned red and smelled badly during the past three to four days,” Supap Kongraksa, a village head in Samut Songkhram’s Muang district, said yesterday.

Her team has been inspecting coastal zones after the shocking reports of the Stingray deaths.

“At dawn, I found many Razor Clams climbing up to the muddy surface at Don Hoi Lot. When my team caught them, we found them to be very weak and dying,” she said.

Don Hoi Lot is a famous seaside area that typically has a robust population of Razor Clams. Many tourists travel to Samut Songkhram specifically to visit the area.

“I am now worried that all the Razor Clams here will die,” Supap said.

Bandhit Pansawat, a coordinator for the Self-Managed Samut Songkhram Group, said Blood Cockles (Tegillarca sp.) in the area had also died.

“We also noticed that many small fish had headed out of the Mae Klong River to a connected small canal since September 29,” he said, adding that he was disappointed the authorities had so far said that the water quality was fine.

Utai said yesterday that his agency was in the process of examining samples from the river, as well as water from Don Hoi Lot. “Results should be available soon,” he said.

Last Friday, the Pollution Control Department announced that the amount of dissolved oxygen in Samut Songkhram’s Mae Klong River was sufficient to support life.

Weerakit Joerakate, who works with Kasetsart University’s Samut Songkhram Fisheries Research Station, said his team had collected water, soil and plankton samples along the Mae Klong River yesterday from Samut Songkhram and Ratchaburi provinces.

“We believe we will be able to identify toxic substances, if any are there, within five days,” he said.

Source: The Nation

Malaysia: Pollution killing tonnes of caged fish in Kinabatangan


By , 2016;

Tonnes of caged fish were destroyed in Sabah’s interior Kinaba­tangan district, the se­cond time in less than a year.

It is believed that river pollution caused the fish to die.

The fish, reared by villagers at Kampung Mumiang in the country’s Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) were worth thousands and fed hundreds of people.

Mumiang, located in the Lower Kinaba­tangan Segama Wetlands, has no road access and is about an hour away by speedboat from Sandakan town.

The village’s Development and Security Committee head Mada Hussin said after the first incident in November last year, the authorities collected water samples and gave new fish stocks based on a subsidy mechanism to the affected villagers.

“Now, most fish from this new stock have been destroyed.

"We only managed to salvage a few of them the moment we noticed something amiss.

"We want the Government to review its policies on collecting water and other relevant samples,” he said.

He said the villagers had no choice but to continue rearing caged fish with the hope that the incident would not repeat in future.

Mada added that the investiga­ting agencies should review their Standard Operating Procedures as the delay in collecting samples did not translate into data that would be useful for mitigation or enforcement measures.

He said in the latest incident in July, some 45 families lost four tonnes of caged fish such as Grou­pers(SubF. Epinephelinae) and Snappers (F. Lutjanidae) worth thousands of ringgit.

Mada said the Malangking river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan, might be polluted with run-off from an oil palm estate, especially during a downpour.

“There is nothing we can do, for example in terms of taking legal action against those who pollute the Malangking river or other waterways, impacting our livelihoods,” Mada said.

He suggested the setting up of sampling stations to enable community wardens to collect samples more frequently, quickly and get data collected by the community to be recognised.

Reacting to what happened in Mumiang, Ramsar Community Group Project lead facilitator Ne­­ville Yapp said a key focus of the project was related to water quality.

“We have identified the setting up of four water quality monitoring units in the near future under this project,” he added.

Source: The Star

Malaysia: Pollution killing tonnes of caged fish in Kinabatangan

Malaysia: Villagers urge Govt to review sample collection policies


19th September 2016;

Having twice lost valuable caged fish within 10 months to what appears to be river pollution, a community in Malaysia’s largest Ramsar site wants the government to review its policies on collecting water and other relevant samples.

One recommendation is for agencies entrusted with investigating such cases to relook at their standard operating procedures (SOP) as the delay in collecting samples does not translate into data that would be useful for mitigation or enforcement measures.

In July, Mumiang Village Development and Security Committee head, Mada Hussin had said 45 families lost four tonnes of caged fish such as Groupers (SubF. Epinephelinae) and Snappers (F. Lutjanidae) worth thousands of ringgit.

He said some caged fish were worth up to RM50 per kilogramme, a lucrative alternative economic activity for villagers who traditionally depended on catching fish but were no longer able to, due to dwindling stocks.

Mada said results of water and fish samples collected by the state fisheries department, environmental protection department and the federal Department of Environment were not shared with fishermen at Kampung Mumiang, following cases of suspected pollution last November and two months ago.

“It would be useful to hold a dialogue with the relevant agencies so that we can collaborate and look at the possibility of appointing water quality wardens from the community.

"We propose sampling stations be set up so that these community wardens can collect samples quickly. We also need to see how data collected by the community can be recognised.

"The relevant agencies must also frequently collect samples. The loss of aquatic biodiversity in the Lower Kinabatangan is an issue that impacts us and which is close to our hearts,” he said in a statement here today.

After the estimated RM100,000 losses last November, villagers received fish stocks from the government based on a subsidy mechanism and supplemented the supply by purchasing more.

“Now, most from this new stock have been destroyed. We only managed to salvage a few fish, the moment we noticed something amiss,” he said.

Mada believed the Malangking river, a tributary of the Kinabatangan was polluted with run-offs from an oil palm estate, especially when it rained heavily.

The waterway then turned light green, indicating algae-rich water which then impacted caged fish reared downstream.

Reacting to what happened in Mumiang, Ramsar Community Group Project lead facilitator Neville Yapp said a key focus of the project was related to water quality.

“We need the government to be supportive of this, including how data collected by the community can be taken as valid. We have identified the setting up of four water quality monitoring units in the near future under this project,” he said.

The Ramsar Community Group project falls under Forever Sabah, an ecology of partnerships that works to transform innovative visions for Sabah’s future into actionable solutions.

Mumiang is located in the Lower Kinabatangan Segama Wetlands, has no road access and is about an hour’s journey by speedboat from Sandakan town.

Mada said villagers had no choice but to continue rearing caged fish despite the risk of once again losing their fish in future.

“This has become a nightmare for us as there is not much else we can do here to earn a livelihood. We have families to raise and food to put on the table,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia: Villagers urge Govt to review sample collection policies

  1. I went to Lim Chu Kang Jetty at about 10pm at high tide and there were some dead fishes clustered at the jetty.
  2. More of the dead fishes at Lim Chu Kang Jetty.
  3. Some look like Milkfish, others look like sea bass?
  4. At around 10.30am today, a concerned nature lover shared sightings of what looked like hundreds of dead fishes floating in Sungei Buloh Besar river with the outgoing tide.
  5. Photo of hundreds of dead fishes taken from Platform 1 at Sungei Buloh facing the fish farms nearby, shared by a concerned nature lover.
  6. Most of the dead fishes documented by the concerned nature lover looked like this and were about the same size.
  7. By the time I got to Sungei Buloh at around 3pm, the tide had already fallen and most of the floating dead fishes washed out of the river. There were some dead fishes stranded on the shore from the mid to low water mark.
  8. I checked out new Sungei Buloh extension (Kranji Nature Trail) and there were some dead fishes scattered along the route.
  9. Most of the dead fishes looked like this and were about the same size.
  10. At around 10.30pm, I stopped by Kranji Dam and also saw a few dead fishes there.

I saw some dead fishes at Lim Chu Kang Jetty tonight.

Earlier this morning at around 10.30am today, a concerned nature lover shared sightings of what looked like hundreds of dead fishes floating into Sungei Buloh Besar with the incoming tide.

I only managed to get there around 3pm and the tide had already gone down. So I saw only some dead fishes at Sungei Buloh Besar as well as the Kranji extension.

Most of the dead fishes were about the same size and look like the Milkfish (Chanos chanos) farmed by the largest fish farm in that area.

Most of the wild fishes seemed alright although there were some Archerfishes (Toxotes sp.) gasping at the water surface at the Main Bridge.

I will check the entire shore again tomorrow.

You CAN make a difference: Dead Fish Alert!

Please help me monitor dead fishes washing up on the Johor Straits. Please let me know if you see large numbers (more than 10) especially of large dead fishes (more than 20cm long) washing up on the northern shores such as Pulau Ubin, Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Buloh, Kranji, Woodlands Waterfront, Sembawang, Punggol, Lorong Halus, Pasir Ris, Changi.

There are too many shores for me to personally check, so I really appreciate any info or photos that you can share. Thank you!

Source: Ria Tan Facebook

Besides Milkfishes, one of the dead fishes photographed at Sungei Buloh is a Grey Mullet (F. Mugilidae), likely a Flathead Grey Mullet (Mugil cephalus), which is also raised by the fish farms off the coast.

An Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), misidentified as a Dugong (Dugong dugon), was found trapped in fishing nets in Kampung Bijat, Sri Aman, Sarawak.

Source: My Mukah Facebook