Daily Decay (27th May 2018)

Daily Decay (27th May 2018): Unidentified Snapper (Lutjanus sp.) @ Changi

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in February 2014, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Many of the offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor raise several species of Snapper, such as John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) and Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus), for human consumption, so this carcass is likely to be one of the farmed fishes, instead of being of wild origin.

Daily Decay (4th March 2018)


Daily Decay (4th March 2018): Unidentified Snapper (Lutjanus sp.) @ Changi

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in February 2014, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Many of the offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor raise several species of Snapper, such as John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) and Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus), for human consumption, so this carcass is likely to be one of the farmed fishes, instead of being of wild origin.

Daily Decay (15th February 2018)

Daily Decay (15th February 2018): Unidentified Snapper (Lutjanus sp.) @ Changi

This was one of the many casualties of a fish mass death in February 2014, caused by a harmful algal bloom in the eastern Straits of Johor.

Many of the offshore fish farms in the Straits of Johor raise several species of Snapper, such as John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) and Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus), for human consumption, so this carcass is likely to be one of the farmed fishes, instead of being of wild origin.

Workers showing the dead Pompano and Red Snapper at a kelong off Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28, 2015. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will help fish farmers affected by the recent fish deaths to recover and restart their farms, it said in a statement. Photo by Kevin Lim

AVA to work with farmers affected by fish deaths to recover and build up resilience
5th March 2015;

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will help fish farmers affected by the recent fish deaths to recover and restart their farms, it said in a statement.

It is also working with external agencies and experts to explore solutions to minimise the impact of plankton bloom.

Late last month, many local fish farms in Changi near the East Johor Straits were affected by plankton bloom. The farms suffered massive fish deaths as a result.

Minister of State for National Development and Defence, Dr Maliki Osman, visited two of the affected fish farms on Thursday.

He said he sympathised with the fish farmers who are affected by the recent incident, but learnt that one farmer who took early action was able to save his fish and minimise losses significantly.

AVA said it sent out an alert to fish farmers in the area on Feb 16 and 17 to warn them about elevated plankton levels and to take the necessary precautions.

“Mr Gary Chang told me that he started preparing for a possible plankton bloom once he was alerted to elevated plankton levels. He lined his net-cages with canvas and installed a simple filtration system to maintain the water quality,” Dr Maliki said.

“Other farmers also took measures, but unfortunately suffered severe losses as they may not have done so early enough.”

Plankton found in seawater can multiply quickly in a very short period of time, and plankton bloom can be triggered by unpredictable weather, higher concentrations of nutrients in the sea water and poor water exchange during high and low tides.

Said Dr Maliki: “Plankton bloom occurrences are very difficult to prevent, but it is possible to reduce the impact. Whilst we provide assistance to help farmers tide over this difficult period, it is also important for farmers to do their part to take mitigating measures early.”

AVA is also looking into how to build up farmers’ resilience against such incidents. This includes putting in place robust contingency plans and conducting contingency exercises, he added. “We will also ask those who have taken early action to share their experience with other farmers.”

Following a similar episode of plankton bloom last year, AVA started to work with the Tropical Marine Science Institute at the National University of Singapore to conduct studies on plankton bloom. The studies are still ongoing.

AVA also called for proposals for closed-containment aquaculture systems for coastal fish farming last year.

The agency recently awarded the tender to five companies to develop a more sustainable sea-based farming system that will minimise exposure to environmental changes, such as plankton bloom.

AVA CEO Tan Poh Hong said: “The proposals from the companies are promising… We hope that the projects can bring about significant improvements to boost the resilience of fish farming.”

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Thousand of dead fishes, including catfish and puffer fish, washed up at Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28, 2015. Photo: Sean Yap’s Facebook page

Worry about marine life mounts as more fish die
By Neo Chai Chin, 3rd March 2015;

As fish carcasses continued to wash up on Singapore’s shores yesterday, marine enthusiasts voiced concern about the amount and variety of wild fish and other animal species affected.

They spoke of the need to boost the resilience of the marine ecosystem as some posted on social media that shore walks in recent days have allowed them glimpses of fish species they had never seen.

Fish farmers, meanwhile, continued to add up their losses from the mass fish deaths that caught many by surprise over the weekend.

“It’s kind of sad that the average Singaporean is finding out about our rich marine biodiversity only after they die and get washed up,” said environmental biology undergraduate Sean Yap, who blogged about his friends seeing a large Hollow-cheeked Stonefish (Synanceia horrida) he had not seen before.

Ms Ria Tan, who runs the blog Wild Shores of Singapore, surveyed nine locations in north-eastern Singapore yesterday and posted on her blog: “The large numbers of wild and farmed fishes that I saw … over many locations on our north-eastern shores is worrying. I hope scientists and authorities are looking into the extent of the mass fish deaths, what is causing this and what steps can be taken to improve the health of the ecosystems to avoid a recurrence of such mass deaths.”

Since 2009, Singapore has experienced several episodes of mass fish deaths. Last year, a plankton bloom and low levels of dissolved oxygen led to more than 160 tonnes of fish lost.

Wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai said researchers could consider delving into past research and data collected. “We also need to be concerned if climate change is leading to these events on a more regular (basis) in the future,” he told TODAY, noting that from photos posted, the scale of recent deaths was the largest he had seen.

He said that while red tides, or algal bloom, usually pass within two weeks, there could be a more lasting impact on the ecosystem due to the roles played by different varieties of fish. “I’m a bit worried for birds like some of our Sea Eagles and Otters that depend on fish for their food,” said Mr Subaraj.

Dr Lena Chan, director of the National Parks Board’s (NParks) National Biodiversity Centre, said NParks is concerned about the potential impact of this incident on marine biodiversity here. “We are consulting with other agencies and will carry out further investigations if necessary,” she said.

The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said over the weekend that going by fish samples collected from affected farms, the fish had died from gill damage caused by plankton. It said laboratory tests conducted so far have not detected marine biotoxins in the fish.

Reeling from the wipeout of his Red Snapper (Lutjanus sp.) and Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) worth about S$700,000, fish farmer Timothy Hromatka said he would have to look into relocating his farm, which is off Pulau Ubin. He had done an overall water quality assessment as part of organic certification of his farm — which he received last month — and the results were good. The assessment covered areas such as heavy metal content, but not the types of plankton found, he said.

He praised the AVA’s efforts and felt great opportunities remain in aquaculture here, but said the ecosystem needs to improve. For instance, when estuaries are converted to reservoirs, mangroves and other vegetation that serve as buffers to regulate nutrient balance in the seawater are lost, making the ecosystem more susceptible to disturbance, he said.

Meanwhile, a fish farm has resorted to crowdfunding to stay afloat. Ah Hua Kelong, which said it lost 80 per cent of its fish last Saturday and is hoping to raise US$20,000 (S$27,300) to help pay expenses for the next three months, had raised US$8,391 on Indiegogo as at 10.30pm yesterday.

A more immediate issue in the coming days is the rotting of dead marine life, said Mr Subaraj, who suggested that young children and older people should avoid contact with the dead fish.

Mr Alvin Tan, 33, who goes to Pasir Ris Park about once a month with his family, said he was aware of the mass fish deaths. As a precaution, the businessman ensures his children do not “go down to the water and beaches”.

Source: TODAY

Snapper


Snapper (Lutjanus sp.)
Changi, 14th February 2014

This snapper likely originated from the fish farms situated off the northeastern coast of mainland Singapore; massive numbers of fishes being raised in these aquaculture facilities died during the mass mortality event which took place in the eastern Straits of Johor in early February.

Several species of snapper occur in Singapore’s coastal waters, and are also raised for human consumption in offshore fish farms. This particular snapper might belong to one of the following species:

Mangrove Red Snapper (Lutjanus argentimaculatus)

Malabar Blood Snapper (Lutjanus malabaricus)

John’s Snapper or Golden Snapper (Lutjanus johnii)

Crimson Snapper (Lutjanus erythropterus)

Uphill battle for fish farmers

Latest mass fish deaths highlight challenges they face as S’pore aims to boost locally farmed stock
By Grace Chua, 23rd February 2014;

Even while Singapore tries to boost the supply of locally farmed fish, the latest mass death incident to hit farmers has highlighted the challenges they face.

It was around Chinese New Year last month when fish farmers off Pasir Ris began to notice something amiss: Their fish were surfacing and gasping. This showed oxygen was lacking in the water.

In a desperate bid to save their stocks, the fishermen harvested what they could, aerated the water and moved high-value fish into mussel nets that would filter plankton and waste from the water.

But it was not enough.

Over the following week, thousands of fish died at 34 fish farms off Pasir Ris and five more farms off Lim Chu Kang. The lethal combination of dry weather and neap tides, when high tides are at their lowest, was pinpointed as the cause of the lack of oxygen in the water.

This was the third such mass deaths in five years.

In 2009, farms in the East Johor Strait were hit by a plankton bloom. Plankton compete with fish for oxygen. And last year, dry and low-oxygen conditions off Lim Chu Kang killed fish there.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) began a push in 2011 to make local supplies account for 15 per cent of total fish consumed here. The figure is currently 7 per cent. Farms here must also produce 17 tonnes of fish for every half hectare of farm space to keep their licences. This year, the fish deaths will be taken into account by the AVA, which issues the licences, and farmers will be given help to restock farms and buy equipment.

However, the latest figures show that in 2012, just 46 out of 120 fish farms met the 17-tonne target, and 42 did not. The rest were new or had changed hands recently.

Farmers also say they will continue to face seasonal algae blooms, lack of facilities and high costs.

Natural conditions around Singapore are not exactly conducive to fish farming.

The Causeway restricts water circulation in the Johor Strait, and neap tides reduce current flow. While currents are stronger off Pulau Tekong and around the Southern Islands – the two other areas where farms are allowed – the deeper, faster waters there require a deeper double anchor, making it more expensive, said fish farmer Noven Chew, 37.

National University of Singapore emeritus professor Lam Toong Jin, an aquaculture expert, said intensive feeding, organic runoff from land and high temperatures also contribute to algal blooms and low-oxygen conditions.

The choice of fish adds to the challenges. Species such as the grouper are sensitive to low-oxygen conditions, but high labour and feed costs mean farmers like Ms Chew choose to raise these high-value fish to better compete with fish from overseas. Farmers who raise hardier fish like Red Snapper (Lutjanus sp.), Milkfish (Chanos chanos) and Grey Mullet (Mugil cephalus) had better luck in the latest mass deaths.

Other pollution sources could arise in the longer term. In an essay on the rise of the Iskandar Malaysia economic zone, researchers from Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies noted the potential for increased pollution and oil spills and the impact of land reclamation.

A spokesman said AVA will work with farms that have yet to reach the minimum production target, and that they have two years to do so. AVA has also disbursed the second $10 million tranche of its Food Fund to 40 farmers to help with equipment costs. Most of these farmers run small half-hectare farms.

In the long run, help may come from technology. Two farms here have worked out ways to farm marine fish on land. SIF Agrotechnology Asia’s land-based hatchery treats recirculated saltwater, and OnHand Agrarian has harvested Pearl Grouper (Epinephelus fuscogutttatus x lanceolatus), Tiger Grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus), lobsters (F. Palinuridae), mussels (Perna viridis) and sea urchins from a pilot farm, cultivating a complete ecosystem in the same tank.

Such tank-based farming may mean higher infrastructure costs, but lets farmers control water quality, said RSIS senior fellow in food security Paul Teng.

For food security’s sake, some form of government help will probably be needed to maintain farm production in small, high-cost Singapore, Professor Teng added. “It’s just like military security. You don’t expect returns, you need to secure your borders.”

Source: The Sunday Times (Mirror)

Uphill battle for fish farmers