JOHOR BARU - The department of environment (DOE) is carrying out a study to find the cause of the massive fish deaths in the waters off Tanjung Kupang, near here.
The deaths occurred about 3km from a land reclamation project but the department said no industrial pollution or oil spillage were detected in the waters.
"The deaths could be due to the red tide phenomenon or change in weather, which causes an overgrowth in plankton, resulting in the lack of oxygen in the water," a DOE spokesman said yesterday.
"Red tide" is a common term used for a harmful algal bloom, or HAB, which occurs when colonies of algae grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people, marine life, animals and birds.
It was reported on Friday that at least 10 fish farms and 250 traditional fishermen were affected by the death of the fishes, initially believed to be due to the off-shore land reclamation works.
The state government said it is also investigating the incidents.
Mohd Khairi Malik, the political secretary to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, said the state government expects to receive a report within this week from the Environmental Investigation Agency, the organisation committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime.
"The state government will halt the project if it is causing the fish deaths," he said.
Meanwhile, state-owned Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Bhd denied the mass fish death was caused by the nearby reclamation works.
KPRJ executive vice-chairman Datuk Md Othman Yusof said the project, which began on Jan 22, had followed all regulations set by the DOE and that the department would conduct checks from time to time to ensure they (the developers) stick to regulations.