19 July 2016

Dead fishes at Lim Chu Kang, 19 Jul 2016

I checked up on Lim Chu Kang Jetty again. There are no freshly dead fishes, but the 'old' dead fishes are still there. And once again, I saw a truckload of expired biscuits being delivered, probably to be fed to the farmed fishes.
Why are hundreds of dead fishes washing up at Lim Chu Kang? The explanation given to the media so far, no fish losses "beyond normal losses", deaths attributed to low dissolved oxygen and not to plankton bloom. But how can this be "normal losses" when we don't normally see this many dead fishes washing up at Lim Chu Kang? And even if they were "normal losses" why are farms allowed to dump their dead fishes into the sea?

The Straits Times reported today, on the mass deaths seen yesterday. Highlights of the articles:

"AVA did not respond to queries by press time." [Ria's comment: Yesterday I saw AVA clearly present at the shore among the dead fishes.]

Only farmers spoke to the media. They said "dissolved oxygen levels have been decreasing since July 8. There was a marginal increase on July 12 but after that, it came down again and has remained low since."

This is attributed to poor water circulation: "we are not near an open coast, water is slow moving such that dissolved oxygen levels deplete more quickly." and low dissolve oxygen levels will thus "recur from time to time".

Farmers "ruled out the possibility of a plankton bloom as a reason for the low levels of dissolved oxygen."

"None of the farms contacted by Fish Farmers Association of Singapore president Timothy Ng or The Straits Times suffered serious losses." Nothing beyond "normal losses".

Lim Chu Kang Jetty surveys

On 18 Jul 2016 evening, I checked Lim Chu Kang Jetty briefly at high tide. There were still a few dead fishes floating near the water, but none piled up on the shoreline.
Dead farmed fish at Lim Chu Kang, 18 Jul 2016
The skip tank was filled to the brim with what smelled like dead fish. There was also a pile of bags filled with what looked like trash removed from the mangroves. The bags did not smell of dead fish.
Dead farmed fish at Lim Chu Kang, 18 Jul 2016

On 19 Jul 2016 morning, I checked again. There were no dead fishes floating in the water, and no dead fishes within sight of the Jetty. But I could still smell dead fish.
Dead farmed fish at Lim Chu Kang, 19 Jul 2016
A few metres away from the Jetty, the dead fishes that I saw yesterday are still there. They were now pushed up to the higher tide line and spread out deeper into the mangroves.
Dead farmed fish at Lim Chu Kang, 19 Jul 2016

What do farmed fishes eat?

It was busy at the Jetty. With live fish being picked up by refrigerated van. There was one small lorry piled with irregular, lumpy packages which are hauled onto small boats at the Jetty.
Expired carbohydrates for fish feed? at Lim Chu Kang Jetty, 19 Jul 2016
Next to it there was another a small lorry stuffed full of expired biscuits.
Expired biscuits for fish feed? at Lim Chu Kang Jetty, 19 Jul 2016
Some of these biscuits are individually wrapped in plastic.
Expired biscuits for fish feed? at Lim Chu Kang Jetty, 19 Jul 2016
I have seen similar instances of such expired carbohydrates being transported at the Jetty. These expired carbohydrates are being hauled to the fish farms, probably to be made into fish food. What happens to the single-use plastic wrappers? Are they responsibly disposed?

I also hear that some fish farmers use expired packaged carbo from Malaysia and Indonesia. So if we see packages of foreign snacks and instant noodles, these may not necessarily have floated all the way from these countries.

Even though a skip tank is provided for Western fish farmers, and it is well used, it does require farmers to bring their trash all the way back to the mainland. Here's another old post about my efforts to address the trash issue with AVA.

Mass fish deaths occur due to poor water quality. Poor water quality is a reflection of the insults we inflict upon the marine ecosystem. I truly hope there will be a multi-agency holistic effort to understand the underlying causes of repeated and regular mass fish deaths, and to work with all stakeholders to resolve the issues.

I did not survey Sungei Buloh or Kranji today.

You CAN make a difference: Dead Fish Alert!

Please help me monitor dead fishes washing up on the Johor Straits. Please let me know if you see large numbers (more than 10) especially of large dead fishes (more than 20cm long) washing up on the northern shores such as Pulau Ubin, Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Buloh, Kranji, Woodlands Waterfront, Sembawang, Punggol, Lorong Halus, Pasir Ris, Changi.

There are too many shores for me to personally check, so I really appreciate any info or photos that you can share. Thank you!

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