10 February 2014

What will AVA do about fish farms dumping dead fishes in the sea?

Many dead farmed fishes washed up at Pasir Ris this morning, I learnt thanks to Mohd Khair on facebook. This follows last night's report that "fish farms along East Johor Straits report fish mortality" due to low oxygen levels in the water.
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
Why doesn't the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) provide daily door-to-door trash collection to deal with such mass deaths and daily industrial trash generated by its licenced fish farms?

All the large fishes seen in the photos seem to be caged farmed fishes (not wild fishes swimming freely in the water).
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
These photos look similar to the mass fish deaths at Pasir Ris in Dec 2009 when hundreds of dead, rotting farm fishes washed up on the shore.
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
Last year, large numbers of dead farm fishes also washed up at Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Jul 2013. In both incidents, AVA attributed the mass deaths of farmed fishes to low oxygen levels in the water. Despite these publicly reported incidents in 2009 and 2013, AVA told me no fish farms have been penalised for littering even though AVA’s “conditions of licensing makes it an offence for fish farmer to illegally dispose waste into the waters.”
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
Fishes in a farm are kept in cages, fed until they reach marketable size, then harvested for sale. If a healthy living fish can't escape a cage, a dying or dead one will surely not be able to do so. For these dead farm fishes to be washed up on the shore, they must have been released when dying or dumped when dead.
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
Just because fish farms don’t pay the cost of trash disposal doesn’t mean the trash doesn’t incur a cost. The National Environment Agency (NEA) is said to spend $1.4m a year to clean up just the recreational beaches (as at 2010). The cost is not only measured in price but also in our health and other impacts.
Photo by Mohd Khair on facebook
with his kind permission to reproduce in this blog.
Dumping dead fishes and littering in general affects water quality, in turn affecting people and businesses using the water, including fish raised in the water. AVA recently identified “disease outbreaks at the farms, especially in the coastal fish farms” as one of the three main challenges at fish farms. It also highlighted how one fish farm tapped on the third tranche of AVA’s $10million Food Fund “to purchase a water quality monitoring system that can monitor the dissolved oxygen levels in the fish nets and alert the farmer through SMS when low levels are detected.” In fact, AVA has committed large investments such as in the sophisticated Marine Aquaculture Centre to conduct R&D and the Republic Polytechnic Aquaculture Centre to attract talent into the industry.

Why doesn't AVA make the investment in daily door-to-door trash collection to stop fish farm trash from affecting water quality? Particularly since these farms are licenced by the government and supported by government programmes, including programmes specifically meant to deal with water quality.

Daily door-to-door trash collection is now provided to all Singapore households and businesses, and by the Marine and Port Authority (MPA) to all ships parked in Singapore waters, about 300 ships per day. The only major exception appears to be the 119 coastal fish farms licenced by the AVA (as at Aug 2013), with each farm required to produce at least 17 tonnes of fish a year.

If every household, business and ship parked in Singapore waters is provided with and required to pay for daily door-to-door trash collection, what special circumstances exempt these fish farms?

Related posts

Previous incidents of mass fish farm deaths on our shores

Fish farm trash on our shores

More about fish farms in general

2 comments:

  1. Put yourself in the fish farmer position and AVA position. Maybe you can help them by organising an volunteering clean up program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If a mainland farm, say raising chickens, had a mass chicken death, I am sure we would expect the farm to responsibly dispose of the dead chickens using the trash disposal system provided to the farms.

      We would be very upset if the chicken farm simply threw the tonnes of dead chickens outside the farm onto the road or other public spaces used by everyone.

      What if we found out that the chicken farm dumped the dead chickens because the authorities did NOT provide the farm a proper means of trash disposal?

      What should be our response then?

      Should we (a) organise a volunteer programme to pick up the dead chickens?

      Or should we (b) encourage the authorities to work together to provide proper trash disposal to the farm?

      I think (b) is the proper long term solution.

      If every household, business and ship parked in Singapore waters is provided with and required to pay for daily door-to-door trash collection, what special circumstances exempt coastal fish farms from the same services?

      Delete

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