Fisheries dept: Toxic algal bloom caused the death of fish in Penang, Perak

05 Jun 2020 / 22:29 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: A harmful bloom of Cochlodinium sp killed fish recently found floating in marine waters off Penang and Perak, said the Fisheries Department of Malaysia (JPM).

While harmless to humans, the algal species is toxic to fish and shellfish, it said in a statement, while assuring that fish farmed in the area is safe for consumption.

“So far, the state Fisheries Department has not received any complaints about wild sea fish. This is because it is easier for wild fish to escape the Cochlodinium sp bloom,” the statement said.

According to the Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) in Batu Maung, Penang, algal blooms occur frequently and annually around the world, said JPM.

The statement informed that fish in cages, especially, die from lack of oxygen because the algae clogs their gills and causes damage.

JPM said the bloom could be heading for Kedah waters and have a similar impact there.

It said it has warned fish farmers against discarding dead algae-affected fish in the sea or cages, and instead to dispose of the dead according to standard operating procedure.

“Farmers have also been advised to move their fish to cages away from the algal bloom and to be prepared to harvest fish they see gasping for air to avoid further losses,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Penang Fisheries Department (PFD) held a press conference in George Town, Penang today to address a video that has surfaced on social media that has created a misconception that the fish found belly up in Penang and Perak died from poisoning.

Its director, Noraisyah Abu Bakar, repeated what was said by JPM earlier that the cause of death was Cochlodinium sp and added that the rotting fish had escaped from sea cages in waters near Penang.

“The Penang Fisheries Department and Fisheries Research Institute in Batu Maung collected samples from the dead fish for analysis on May 29. It is completely untrue that poisoning is the cause of death, as what people claim.

“Our investigation also found that the dead were from two species of farmed fish -- red snapper (ikan merah) and trevally (ikan nyok-nyok).There are no cases of dead wild sea fish.

“Hence, farmed fish in the state is safe to eat and not poisonous as alleged,” she said.

Noraisyah said fish farmers can use a paddlewheel or water jet aerator, a blower or any suitable method to break down the algal bloom to protect their fish. — Bernama

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