06 October 2008

Dinner from the drain: clams in Singapore's canals

Families dig for shellfish in Bedok canal, reports the New Paper today.
'We come here once a week, when the tide is low. It's a good way to spend time, and no need to spend money.'

'It's better than going to shopping centres, nothing to do'.

Is there anything to collect?
On a good day, each person can get up to 5kg of the bivavles, called 'lala'.

However, 'There are fewer lalas now. Last time, you could just scoop, and your basket would be half full. Now, you must find one by one, and feel for them in the sand.'

But it's dangerous to people for two reasons:

Drowning danger

IT may be fun, but it's dangerous. A spokesman for PUB, the national water agency, said canals are designed to move stormwater away quickly.

So, heavy rainwater from other parts of the drain network upstream may suddenly flow into a dry canal.

'This rapid surge of water within minutes can pose a danger to people who are in a canal,' said Mr Tan Nguan Sen, PUB's director of catchment and waterways.

'For this reason, the public are not allowed to enter any canals as they may not be able to get out of the canal in time when that happens.'

Eating the shellfish can make you ill
A spokesman from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority said that such shellfish are 'high-risk' food.

'Certain seafoods are considered high risk as they are more likely to cause food-borne illness. They include raw or partially cooked oysters, cockles, clams and lalas. They tend to accumulate viruses and bacteria from the surrounding water.'

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