Fish farm goes online to raise funds to keep going

Fish farm goes online to raise funds to keep going

A fish farm here has appealed for donations online, after being hit by a plankton bloom which wiped out more than 100 tonnes of fish, or 80 per cent of its stock.

Ah Hua Kelong, located off Lorong Halus on the north-eastern coast, hopes to raise US$20,000 (S$27,300) for the day-to-day running of the farm, including paying staff wages.

As of last night, the farm had managed to raise almost $8,000, which will help tide it over until it can begin producing more fish again in about two months.

Changi's coastal farms, which play a key role in helping Singapore become more self-sufficient at producing food, have been reeling since plankton blooms decimated stocks starting from Saturday.

To make matters worse, the farmers were still recovering from a similar incident a year ago - where 39 outfits lost hundreds of thousands of dollars after 160 tonnes of fish died.

This year, the 51 farms operating there could be even harder hit.

Mr Malcolm Ong, chief executive of The Fish Farmer, said: "It seems to be more severe this year. We had the aeration pumps, but it still affected us."

Mr Ong, whose farm produces about 700 tonnes of fish annually, lost about 5 per cent of his stock.

Ah Hua's business development manager, Mr Wong Jing Kai, told The Straits Times that the remaining 20 per cent of the farm's fish have been moved temporarily to his other farm in Sembawang and a friend's fish farm on Pulau Tekong.

Ah Hua Kelong wrote on crowdfunding site Indiegogo: "We are on the verge of losing the workers, the farm and everything we have.

"The farm, which opened in 2006, produces fishes such as red snappers and groupers for restaurants and households."

Even though it had installed aeration pumps to mitigate the effects of the plankton bloom, it was still "hit hard" as there was not enough time to react, said Mr Wong.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) explained that 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.

When the microscopic plants use up too much oxygen, other marine life is suffocated.

Lab tests conducted so far did not detect biological toxins in the fish, and those from local farms remain safe to eat, said the AVA.

Meanwhile, other marine life such as puffer fish, horseshoe crabs and eels have also become victims of the plankton bloom, and have washed up onto the shore at Pasir Ris beach.

National University of Singapore environment biology undergraduate Sean Yap, 23, started taking photographs of the marine life along the beach at the weekend, and shared them on social media.

"We are seeing a lot of (dead) species we didn't previously see before last year, like fishfrog and eels," he said.

Dr Lena Chan, director of the National Parks Board's National Biodiversity Centre, said that the agency is concerned about the potential impact of the incident.

"We are consulting with other agencies and will carry out further investigations if necessary," she said.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 03, 2015.
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