Malaysia: Fish breeders incur losses of Rm1 Million due to El Niño

22nd April 2016;

About 10 caged-fish breeders in Sungai Sangga Besar and Kuala Sepetang near Taiping have claimed losses of more than RM1 million due to the current hot and dry weather brought on by the El Niño phenomenon.

The breeders’ representative, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said about 200,000 Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.), Grouper (SubF. Epinephelinae) and Sea Bass (Barramundi) (Lates calcarifer) had died on Sunday.

“When we went to our farms that day, we found dead fish floating in the ponds,” he told Bernama.

Apart from the hot weather, Lee said, lack of oxygen could have also killed the fish.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia: Fish breeders incur losses of Rm1 Million due to El Niño

The fish raised by farmers in Trat have died due to an unknown cause. (Photos by Jakkrit Waewkraihong)

Thailand: Trat village probes mass fish kill
By Jakkrit Waewkraihong, 4th August 2015;

Officials in Trat province are trying to determine what caused a mass fish die-off in a Muang district canal.

Fish, crab, shrimp and other marine life died in the Khlong Son canal over the past 24 hours. Boonnote Phumanee, head of Saphan Hin village, went to the waterway Tuesday morning after residents reported the strong stench of fish as far as a half-kilometre away.

In the upper section of the canal, which flows into the sea, some Asian sea bass (Lates calcarifer) and Grouper (SubF. Epinephelinae) raised in baskets also died.

Fish raisers said they suspected water in the canal, which had turned reddish brown, caused the fish to die. Residue of a yellow liquid were found covering the beach for about 200 metres and in the sea. It was not yet known where the liquid came from.

The village headman said water samples would be taken for testing.

Some villagers alleged the reddish-brown water was from a shrimp farm owned by a high-level police officer, but that had not been confirmed, Mr Boonnote said.

Source: Bangkok Post

Based on the photo, at least one Spotted Scat (Scatophagus argus) was the victim of this mass mortaity event.

1. Mr Ong Kim Pit’s fish farm in Lim Chu Kang was hit on Friday by mass fish deaths, which had first affected farms in the east of the island. He has lost more than 60,000 baby and adult Mullet fish, with losses estimated at $10,000. Photo by Lau Fook Kong
2. Friends Wong Jing Kai (left) and Bryan Ang, who went into partnership with Mr Teh Aik Hua, 60, who owns Ah Hua Kelong, lost 80 per cent of their fish in the recent mass fish deaths at their farm near Pasir Ris. Photo by Seah Kwang Peng

Fish deaths: Fish farmers mentally prepared for more losses, and resigned to fate
The plankton bloom that hit fish farms along the Johor Strait has caused millions of dollars in losses, and plenty of heartache. But while some farmers have decided to simply take it on the chin, others are fighting back. The Straits Times speaks to five farms.
By Carolyn Khew, 9th March 2015;

It has been a tough weekend for 65-year-old fish farmer Ong Kim Pit.

On Friday, his Lim Chu Kang fish farm was hit by mass fish deaths, which had first affected farms in the east of the island.

He lost more than 60,000 baby and adult Mullet fish (Flathead Grey Mullet) (Mugil cephalus), with losses estimated at $10,000.

But he appears to be resigned to his fate.

He said he is aware there are closed rearing systems that can help to isolate fish from the harmful effects of plankton blooms.

But the farmer, who has been in the business for about 20 years, said he is not going to stop using net cages, in which fish are reared in the sea.

When asked why, he said rearing fish in containers is “not so simple” because of the heavy costs involved.

There are also limits on how much fish one can raise in a container, he added.

Besides, the father of three sons, aged 27 to 34, plans to retire in a few years’ time. And he does not want his kids to take over his business as it is a hard life.

“You have to be in the sun and rain a lot and, frankly, I think young people are scared of that,” said Mr Ong.

He said he buys his Mullet and Milkfish (Chanos chanos) fingerlings from Indonesia and feeds them bread and instant noodles for about 11/2 years before he sells them.

He said a similar plankton bloom could see him suffer more loses.

“If I can clear my stock quickly, I’ll do it,” he added.

“The only other thing I can do is to prepare myself mentally. Once the bloom comes, the fish will be gone.”

Source: The Straits Times

Fish deaths: Duo turn to online crowdsourcing for help
By Isaac Neo, 9th March 2015;

Fish farming might seem unattractive to most young people, but in the case of 26-year-olds Wong Jing Kai and Bryan Ang, their youth has been a plus.

Last April, the two friends from national service went into partnership with Mr Teh Aik Hua, 60, who owns Ah Hua Kelong.

The farm rears Golden Pomfret (Snubnose Pompano) (Trachinotus blochii), Sea Bass (Barramundi) (Lates calcarifer) and Pearl Groupers (Brown-marbled or Tiger Grouper X Giant Grouper) (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus X lanceolatus), along with mussels and crabs.

The recent plankton bloom wiped out 80 per cent of their entire stock at their farm just five minutes away from Lorong Halus on the north-east coast near Pasir Ris.

The remaining 20 per cent was saved after being moved to their farm in Sembawang.

But they still needed help.

So, the Internet-savvy new partners turned to online crowdsourcing and raised over US$12,000 (S$16,500) through the Indiegogo website.

The money, they said, was needed to help them cover their operating costs. “We are thankful to those who have supported us, it would have been much tougher without them,” said Mr Wong.

They also plan to downsize the Pasir Ris farm and expand their Sembawang farm, which was unaffected by the bloom.

They estimate it will take them at least nine months to get their business back on track and, even then, they may never be able to recover everything. However, they remain optimistic.

They believe their business model which includes delivering the produce straight to households – a plan which the two new partners came up with – is one that will work. Said Mr Ang: “Seafood is something that most Singaporeans really like.”

Source: The Straits Times

1. Fish at Mr Phillip Lim’s, 53, fish farm at the Pasir Ris eastern fish farms have been completely wiped out.
2. Mass fish death at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Extension.
3-4. Mass fish death at Changi Beach.
5-6. Mass fish death at Pasir Ris East.
7. Mass fish death at Pasir Ris West.
Photos by Robin Choo [1.] and Ria Tan [all others]

Up to 600 tonnes of fish lost to algal bloom: AVA
By Neo Chai Chin, 5th March 2015;

Up to 600 tonnes of fish belonging to 55 farms have been lost to algal bloom in recent days, said the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority today (Mar 5).

Issuing its first comments on the algal bloom since last Saturday, the authority said last year’s plankton bloom cost 53 farms about 500 tonnes of fish.

The AVA also said it would help the affected fish farmers — who operate off Pasir Ris in the East Johor Strait — to recover and restart their operations, and enhance their resilience to environmental challenges.

AVA’s media statement and replies to queries came after Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman visited two affected fish farms today. One of the farmers he visited, Mr Gary Chang, told TODAY via the phone that he managed to minimise his losses to just over a tonne — or 10 to 15 per cent of his fish — by moving half of his stocks to the farm of a good friend in Malaysia. He enveloped the remaining half in canvas bags and aerated the water in the bags, said Mr Chang, who rears Grouper (SubF. Epinephelinae) and Sea Bass (Lates calcarifer).

Dr Maliki said farmers who suffered severe losses may not have taken measures early enough. “Plankton bloom occurences 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,” he said. The AVA is looking to build up farmers’ resilience against these incidents, such as through robust contingency plans and contingency exercises. It will also ask farmers who have taken early action to share their experience with other farmers, Dr Maliki added.

Farmers reported the bulk of deaths to have occurred in the pre-dawn hours last Saturday, and many dead wild fish also washed up on Pasir Ris beach over the weekend. TODAY reported on Wednesday that a laboratory test had identified the algae species to belong to the Gymnodinium group, but AVA said its preliminary findings point to the Karlodinium veneficum species, which has been associated with fish kills worldwide.

According to website algaebase.org, the Karlodinium veneficum has been detected in places including France, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and is known to produce karlotoxin, an agent responsible for fish kills. According to Western Australia’s Swan River Trust, there is no evidence that this species is toxic to humans.

The AVA said the dead fish had gill damage caused by plankton. No marine biotoxins have been detected in fish samples from affected farms and live fish harvested from the farms are safe for consumption, it added.

DHI Water & Environment, which did the laboratory test for TODAY, said that the seawater sample tested was examined at a magnification of 400 times. At that level, species of algae belonging to the Karlodinium and Gymnodinium groups would appear very similar. To be able to positively identify the algae species, a genetic test or a microscope with 1,500 to 2,000 times’ magnification would be needed, said Dr Hans Eikaas, head of environmental technology and chemistry at DHI, a not-for-profit offering consultancy and water-modelling services.

To his knowledge, no Karlodinium algae has been found in the East Johor Strait, although they have been found in the West Johor Strait, said Dr Eikaas.

Blogger and marine enthusiast Ria Tan reported seeing dead wild and farmed fish at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Extension, which is near the West Johor Strait, yesterday afternoon. But West Johor Strait farmer Malcolm Ong said there have been no fish deaths on his farm so far. His staff are on alert during this “dangerous period” and have pumps and aerators on standby, said Mr Ong, chief executive of Metropolitan Fishery Group, which is a major stakeholder in Singapore’s largest marine fish farm, off Lim Chu Kang.

On how it was dealing with plankton bloom in the longer term, the AVA said it has been working with the Tropical Marine Science Institute of the National University of Singapore on plankton bloom studies since last year’s episode. The studies, for the development of effective mitigating solutions, are ongoing, it said.

The AVA also called for proposals to design and develop a closed-containment aquaculture system for coastal fish farming last year. It recently awarded the tender to five companies, which will be working on a sustainable option for fish farms to minimise exposure to changes in the environment, such as plankton bloom, said the authority.

Source: TODAY

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

1. Workers showing the dead Sea Bass at a kelong off Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28, 2015. Offshore farmers from a fishing farm here have put up an appeal for donations online.
2-3. Dead fish (wild ones, not from kelong) washed ashore along Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28 2015.
4. Workers looking at dead fishes at a kelong off Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28 2015.
5. Dead Pompano at a kelong off Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28 2015.
6-7. Workers showing the dead Pompano and Red Snappers at a kelong off Pasir Ris beach on Feb 28 2015.
Photos by Kevin Lim

Fish farmers source donations online to tide them over during plankton bloom
By Jalelah Abu Bakar, 2nd March 2015;

Offshore farmers from a fishing farm here have put up an appeal for donations online after an environmental crisis that has caused them huge losses.

Ah Hua Kelong, which is located off Lorong Halus on the north-east coast, attributed the loss in 80 per cent of their fish to a plankton bloom. The phenomenon happens when the micro-organisms found in seawater multiply quickly in a very short time, draining the seawater of oxygen. Majority of the farm’s fishes have died as a result.

The farmers wrote on crowdfunding site Indiegogo: “We are on the verge of losing the workers, the farm and everything we have and it is not just because of broken supply but because of the news and speculations.”

They added that 20 per cent of their fish are healthy and safe to sell and eat because they were transferred out of “troubled waters”. Ah Hua Kelong specialises in farming Grouper (SubF. Epinephelinae), Sea Bass (Barramundi) (Lates calcarifer) and Golden Pomfret (Snubnose Pompano) (Trachinotus blochii), according to its website.

The Straits Times reported on Sunday that thousands of fish died in coastal farms off Changi. Dead fish were also seen along the Pasir Ris shoreline. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) attributed the deaths to gill damage caused by plankton. AVA was quoted as saying that lab tests conducted so far did not detect biological toxins in the fish, and fish from local farms remains safe to eat.

Ah Hua Kelong started the project on Feb 28, and has set a goal of US$20,000 (S$27,303). By Monday morning, it has raised US$3,563 (S$4,864). The fund-raising will continue till March 30.

“We are not asking for much. We hope to raise enough to only help us pay off expense for at least 3 months since now both demand and supply are in the ditch,” the farmers wrote.

Source: The Straits Times