Daily Decay (20th June 2018)

Daily Decay (20th June 2018): Unidentified Grouper (Epinephelus sp.) @ Changi

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in late February and March 2015, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Several species of Grouper (as well as hybrids) are raised in offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor, so this individual might have been a farm escapee.

Daily Decay (11th May 2018)

Daily Decay (11th May 2018): Unidentified Grouper (Epinephelus sp.) @ Pasir Ris

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in late February and March 2015, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Several species of Grouper (as well as hybrids) are raised in offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor, so this individual might have been a farm escapee.

Daily Decay (3rd April 2018)

Daily Decay (3rd April 2018): Unidentified Grouper (Epinephelus sp.) @ Pasir Ris

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in late February and March 2015, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Several species of Grouper (as well as hybrids) are raised in offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor, so this individual might have been a farm escapee.

Photos: Benjamin Seetor, The Straits Times, Gills N Claws

Fish farm might close due to oil spill
Fish farms in Pulau Ubin in costly ordeal after oil spill from vessels collision reaches them
By Kimberly Lim, 7th January 2017;

It has been an anxious three days for Mr Steven Suresh, who has been shuttling between his office in mainland Singapore and his fish farm located in north Pulau Ubin.

Gills N Claws, an aquaculture company, has a total of $500,000 worth of seafood at stake because of the oil spill in Johor, said the 46-year-old chief executive officer.

He is waiting for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to release the results of food safety tests conducted on the fish samples.

The Tuesday night collision between two container vessels saw 300 tonnes of oil spillage.

By the following night, patches of oil were seen along the beaches of Singapore’s north-eastern coast.

Mr Steven said: “This whole experience has been horrifying and shocking. I really do not know what to do.

"We have been waiting for AVA’s reply to find out if we can still salvage any of our fish.”

The future for the company remains uncertain for now, he added.

“We have no insurance for the farm because it was not made available to us. We were affected by the red tide during the previous two years and we were just recovering from that when the oil spill happened,” he said.

Mr Steven expects the results to be out by tomorrow. But sales to restaurants, fishmongers and wholesalers have been brought to a standstill.

He said: “We have 40 tonnes of fish stocked up for the Chinese New Year, with each tonne costing up to $7,000. From my experience, my fish are definitely gone already. We cannot pull out the net or feed the fish.

"We also have four tonnes of lobsters, costing $55,000 per tonne. As far as I know, the lobsters are gone too – nobody will want to buy lobsters with oil coated on them.”

Mr Steven added: “The clean-up for the farm will take at least four months to complete and our business will have to stop because of it.”

He said the farm has to undergo structural changes on top of purchasing new nets and high-density floating polyethylene cubes.

There is a high chance the company will close down because of the time required to clean up, he said.

Mr Tan Choon Teck, owner of FC57E Fish Farm, also sent fish samples to AVA for testing.

The 54-year-old said in Mandarin: “AVA came to collect the fish sample on Wednesday but has not notified us on when the results will be released.

"I have not estimated the losses made but some of my small fishes have died.”

He added: “I have been feeling very anxious because I am afraid that more fish will die. I have also been very busy with cleaning the oil.”

Some fish farms have managed to escape the ordeal.

Among them is The Fish Farmer, located in the south of Pulau Ubin.

Mr Malcolm Ong, 53, the chief executive officer, said: “We were unaffected by the oil spill but it came close to the farm and skirted right past us.

‘Small Community’

"I feel very lucky and fortunate, but also a bit pained for our fellow farmers because we are a small community. It is a big blow for them and we hope that they can recover from this.”

AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Strait to assess the situation and assist in the clean-up, such as issuing oil absorbent pads and canvas to 25 farmers closest to the oil spill.

Some farms have reported loss of 250kg of fish.

AVA said: “To ensure food safety, AVA has collected fish samples for food safety tests and will continue to do so. We have also issued suspension of sales to 12 farms as (of yesterday).

"The suspension will be in place until food safety evaluations are complete. Fish available in the market is safe for consumption.”

Dr Leong Hon Keong, group director of AVA’s technology and industry development group, said: “As compared to the day before, we have observed more farms with tainted nets and structures in the East Johor Strait due to the tidal movement.

"AVA will continue to monitor the situation and assist the fish farmers, including assisting in cleanup efforts.”

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said: “Clean-up operations are still on going at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel, and at Noordin beach, northern coastline of Pulau Ubin. Oil spill response vessels as well as containment booms and spill recovery equipment, such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads, have also been deployed.”

Source: The New Paper

  1. Dead fish are seen at 2 Jays fish farm, one of the farms affected by the oil spill, on Jan 6, 2017.
  2. Mr Timothy Ng, operations manager of 2 Jays fish farm, holds a dead, oil-covered hybrid Grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus x lanceolatus) on Jan 6, 2017.

Photos: Audrey Tan

MPA says good progress made in containing, cleaning up oil spill; 12 fish farms asked to suspend sales
By Audrey Tan, 6th January 2017;

A total of 12 Singapore fish farms have been asked by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to stop selling fish until food safety evaluations are complete.

This is an increase from the three farms which faced the sales suspension on Thursday (Jan 5).

‘Since the oil spill incident, AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Strait daily to ascertain and mitigate the situation, and assist in the clean-up,“ said an AVA spokesman.

Oil absorbent pads, and canvas to prevent oil from spreading, have been given to 25 farmers near the oil spill site, she added.

Fish available in the market is safe for consumption, the AVA said.

AVA’s assurance comes on the back of an oil spill from Johor that affected coastal farms in Singapore and stained the Republic’s north-eastern shoreline with black, tar-like substances.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a press release on Friday afternoon said "good progress has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spillage” caused by the collision of two container vessels off Pasir Gudang port in Johor on Tuesday.

Clean-up operations are still ongoing at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at the Nenas Channel and at Noordin beach, the northern coastline of Pulau Ubin, said the MPA.

MPA and other government agencies are “monitoring the situation closely and will carry out necessary clean-up efforts”, it added in its release.

Port operations remain unaffected.

Those who spot oil patches in Singapore waters or coastlines may contact MPA’s 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre on 6325-2488 or 6325-2489.

Parts of Changi beach remained closed to the public on Friday morning, as work to clean up the remnants of an oil spill continued.

A check by The Straits Times at Changi beach at about 10.30am showed red and white tape blocking off access to the beach, with no swimming signs placed every 10m or so. The signs warned of contaminated waters.

The beach next to the popular Changi Village Hawker Centre was still streaked with a black substance, and a strong smell of petroleum lingered in the air.

There were also plastic bags filled with oil-stained sand lying along the shoreline. Workers were seen spraying jets of a liquid on the walls next to Changi jetty in what looked like an attempt to remove the black, tar-like substance clinging to the walls.

Oil spill response boats seen around Changi jetty had containers labelled “dispersants” on them. Dispersants are chemicals commonly used to break up oil slicks into smaller droplets, in the same way that detergents are used to clean grease from dishes, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Officers wearing MPA polo T-shirts were also seen supervising the works.

The oil spill hit Singapore shores on Wednesday night at about 9.50pm, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). It originated from a collision of container vessels Wan Hai 301 and APL Denver at about midnight on Tuesday.

Singapore government agencies, such as the NEA, MPA and National Parks Board (NParks), are working to limit the damage.

AVA said on Thursday it is also conducting lab tests on fish taken from some of the fish farms in the East Johor Strait area.

Operations manager of 2 Jays fish farm, Mr Timothy Ng, said he has lost about 20kg of fish so far. It is too soon to assess the damage, he said, as fish are not directly impacted by the oil spill.

“There will be enough oxygen for the fish as long as the water is moving and not stagnant. The danger happens when they surface to feed, as they may ingest oil-coated food, or get oil in their gills,” Mr Ng added.

He has not fed most of his fish since the oil spill happened on Tuesday, although he told The Straits Times that he may start doing so today as most of the oil has been cleared. He usually feeds his fish once a day.

Source: The Straits Times

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/starterkit/servlet/fragment?id=3419474&view=embed

Oil spill off Johor: Affected fish farms plan to seek compensation
6th January 2017;

With affected fish farms mulling legal action in the wake of Tuesday’s oil spill, lawyers told Channel NewsAsia that the ship owners responsible for the spill are liable.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

  1. Gills N’ Claws, one of the affected coastal fish farms in Singapore.
  2. Oil slicked Green Mussels (Perna viridis) seen on a rope at Gills N’ Claws fish farm.

Photos: Winnie Goh

Oil spill off Johor: Affected fish farms plan to seek compensation
By Lianne Chia & Vanessa Lim, 6th January 2017;

One fish farm lost almost its entire Chinese New Year harvest, after a vessel collision off Johor on Tuesday (Jan 3) resulted in about 300 tonnes of oil spilling into the sea.

Now, Gills N’ Claws, which runs a fish farm north of Pulau Ubin, said it is already in talks with its lawyers and will consider taking legal action against the shipping companies in question.

“Our lawyers told us we can sue the ship owners for compensation,” said Gills N’ Claws’ CEO Steven Suresh. “But first we will ask them amicably how they plan to compensate us, and then see what they say.

"If they don’t want to compensate us, then we will have to take legal action.”

The company estimates its losses could run to as high as S$700,000. It saw the deaths of about 70 per cent of the fish meant to be sold in time for Chinese New Year, but the larger proportion of its losses come from having to change all the infrastructure that was ruined by the oil.

“Just redoing the infrastructure alone is going to cost us a bomb,” said Mr Suresh. “It’s easier for me to tear the whole thing down and build a new system than to clean up the oil.”

Ship owners liable for compensation: lawyers

But how likely is it that they will be successful in recouping their losses? Lawyers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said that under Singapore law, these fish farms are eligible for compensation from the ship owners responsible for the spill.

“If the collision was caused by the fault or negligence of any of the ships involved, the fish farms would likely have a claim against the party at fault,” said K Murali Pany, managing partner of Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP. “If the party does not offer payment, the fish farms will have to bring a claim in court, and a ship arrest to obtain security for their claims may also be possible.”

The Government can also take steps to penalise shipping companies for causing oil spills that affect Singapore, according to S Suressh, partner at Harry Elias Partnership and head of the Aviation and Shipping Practice Group. He said the master, agent and owner of the ship can be fined up to a maximum of S$1 million under the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act.

In a 1993 case involving accidental pollution, the fine imposed was about S$10,000. But penalties are much more severe in cases of deliberate pollution. “In 1996, a tanker dumped oil into the sea. The master was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and fined S$400,000. The ship’s owner and its agent were also fined S$400,000 each.”

He added that the fish farms looking to make a claim will have to take the matter up with the representatives of the owner of the vessel. There is also no fixed time frame for it to be resolved, as each case is different. “If matters cannot be resolved, then claimants can sue the owners, but this is rarely necessary as most claims of this nature are settled,” he said. “The ship probably has insurance coverage for this.”

Fish farms taking a wait-and-see approach

In the meantime, affected fish farms are still assessing their damage and taking a wait-and-see approach. President of the Fish Farmers’ Association Timothy Ng said they are still exploring their options and are currently having preliminary discussions. “But it is likely that we will need to make some claims,” he said.

It is also not easy to gauge the actual impact of the oil spill on his association’s members, he added. “There are a few farmers directly impacted, but for others … I heard from a farmer closer to the Changi side that they could see (the) oil coming.”

“So we will only know in a few weeks, when everything is settled, what the impact is on their farms.”

As of Friday (Jan 6), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has issued orders for 12 farms to suspend fish sales until food safety evaluations are complete.

Fish available in the market is safe for consumption, AVA added.

AVA has also been visiting coastal fish farms to ascertain and mitigate the situation, as well as assist in the clean-up. Oil-absorbent pads and canvas have been issued to 25 farmers near the site of the oil spill to help protect their fish stock.

It added that while some farms said that about 250kg of fish have died, most of the farms in the same area did not report any, and that there is “minimal impact to supply”.

Source: Channel NewsAsia