SINGAPORE - Minister of State for National Development, and Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon has addressed concern that a fish he was holding during his visit to a local fish farm on Monday (Jan 18) was "dead".
Dr Koh, who wrote about the visit on Facebook on Tuesday (Jan 19) morning, also uploaded several photos - one of which showed him posing with a 10kg sea bass.
Responding to the post, Facebook user Michael Tan linked a video which showed Dr Koh releasing the fish back into its habitat.
In the video, the fish did not appear to move when released and sank to the bottom of the open net-cage.
"Is the fish still alive? Why swimming upside down?" Mr Tan asked in the comments section.
Dr Koh explained that the fish had been anaesthetised with food grade clove oil so it would not struggle or get hurt while the farmer inspected it.
During his visit to several fish farms on Monday, Dr Koh told the media that 77 coastal fish farms off the East and West Johor Straits had been affected by the crippling algae bloom early last year, which caused millions of dollars in losses.
Of the 77 farms affected, 63 received assistance from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).
Dr Koh also warned of the likelihood that algae blooms could happen again, especially when factors such as global warming and changes in water temperature come into play.
"It is not a question of 'if' but 'when' another plankton bloom will happen again. They have occurred more than once, and it will be a matter of time before it occurs again," he wrote in his Facebook post.
He also revealed that Singapore's 116 coastal fish farms currently contribute to 8 per cent of local fish consumption.
"Ideally, we should aim to produced 15 per cent or more of our consumption needs to buffer against shortages," Dr Koh added.
"Intensifying the production and improving the productivity of our fish farms not only helps in the revenue of the farms, but also helps in our food supply resilience. It is in everyone's interest to see our fish farmers succeed."
He said AVA was closely monitoring the water quality, including plankton monitoring to detect changes in the presence and abundance of harmful plankton species.