Parliamentary Replies

$800k spent on animal management measures last year

The authorities spent $800,000 on animal management measures last year, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.

The sum includes spending on animal culling, but Mr Lee told Parliament the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) does not track this amount "as this is only a small part" of the agency's work.

Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) had asked for the costs of culling and if the ministry expects spending in this area to go up over the next three years.

His questions followed a lively debate on the issue last week, which was prompted by the culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming.

Mr Lee said he was unable to project if culling costs would increase.

"It depends on the risks and on whether the human-animal conflicts rise or fall, and whether public education helps mitigate that, along with the animal welfare groups' efforts in working with us to rehome animals."

ANIMAL-HUMAN CONFLICTS

If everyone practises responsible pet ownership and refrains from feeding strays, the number of stray animals will fall and present a much smaller problem.

MR DESMOND LEE, Senior Minister of State for National Development.

He reiterated that culling is used only as a last resort, and that the AVA will continue to conduct relevant studies to "inform its policies and facilitate a science-based approach to animal management".

He cited how the AVA engaged a team of local and overseas academics in November 2015 to carry out a three-year study on stray dogs.

The study will estimate the stray dog population here, look at the ecological and biological aspects of stray dogs, and evaluate population management measures like sterilisation.

The AVA has also been conducting similar studies on birds, he said.

Mr Lee also urged the community to do its part to reduce animal-human conflicts, saying: "If everyone practises responsible pet ownership and refrains from feeding strays, the number of stray animals will fall and present a much smaller problem."

Separately, Mr Lee told Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera - who asked about the Government's efforts to help fish farmers - that the AVA is working with farmers to manage longer-term environmental risks.

For instance, it has developed a real-time water quality monitoring system that they can access on their mobile phones.

Local fish production has fluctuated over the past three years, increasing from 4,205 tonnes in 2014 to 5,272 tonnes in 2015, before dropping to 4,851 tonnes last year.

Fish production has been affected by plankton blooms - which gobble oxygen in the water - and a recent oil spill.

The 4,851 tonnes make up 10 per cent of fish consumed in Singapore - below the 15 per cent target, but an improvement of 2 percentage points from 2014.

The AVA is also reviewing longer-term targets, Mr Lee said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline '$800k spent on animal management measures last year'. Print Edition | Subscribe