Vivian Balakrishnan: Plankton blooms a 'recurrent problem'

SINGAPORE - Plankton blooms will be a recurrent problem with climate change and this is going to pose a challenge to fish farming here, said Minister for Water and Environment Resources Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday.

He said plankton blooms tend to occur, especially in the sea facing the Straits of Johor, whenever there is a dry spell or a drought. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Green Corridor Run held at the Old Tanjong Pagar railway station on Sunday.

"The AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) and the fish farmers are going to have to sit down to discuss what's the best way forward because this is likely to be a recurrent problem with global warming, with greater incidence of both droughts as well as heavy intense storms," said Dr Balakrishnan.

"Dealing with this volatility is going to be a real challenge for long-term fish farming in that area."

His comments came after coastal fish farms in Changi and Lim Chu Kang were hit recently by mass fish deaths. Dead fish including catfish and mullet were found washed up on the shores of Lim Chu Kang jetty on Saturday. Some were also found dead at Kranji Reservoir Park and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Plankton blooms can be deadly as they suck oxygen from the water, suffocating other marine life. They are caused by factors such as warmer weather and a neap tide, when the high tide is at its lowest.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg