Red tide still at worrying level – Fisheries Dept

Borneo Post, 18 Dec 2012

KOTA KINABALU: The incidence of red tide in Papar, Tuaran, Tasik Sitompok (Kuala Penyu) and here is still at a worrying level.

Fisheries Department senior officer (head of the quality division), Boniface Jintony told The Borneo Post yesterday that the concentration of toxic algal blooms remained high at the affected areas.

“The incident began late November this year and has remained high,” he said.

He added that when the situation returns to normal, the department would issue another reminder to tell consumers that the red tide incident is over.

“As of now, we are still monitoring the situation,” he said.

Boniface also explained that most fish were safe for consumption as long as their gills and intestines were removed.

“We are asking people to avoid eating the ‘slender rainbow sardine’ fish which is also known as Dussumleria sp or ‘ikan tamban’. It is unsafe to eat the fish species because they eat plankton. People should also avoid shells as they accumulate high toxin,” he said.

Commenting on some 300 trawlers moored at the KK market waterfront, he said: “They are moored there because they do not understand the situation.”

He added that the trawler operators could continue to catch and sell fish and were requested to avoid catching and selling the slender rainbow sardine fish as well as shells during the present period.

“They get confused each time we make an announcement of red-tide incidents,” he said.

Brunei waters still affected by red tide

Borneo Post, 13 Feb 2013

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, has announced that according to latest information on February 11, 2013 Brunei waters are still affected by the Red Tide phenomenon, Borneo Bulletin reported.

Thus the ban on catching fish and shellfish from the affected areas as well as collecting dead fish and shellfish from the Brunei waters will remain in force, it said in a press statement.

As a precautionary measure, the public has been reminded to completely remove the guts, gills and other internal organs of fish before cooking and to abstain from eating small fish whose gills, guts and internal organs cannot be removed as well as Molluscan shellfish and fish from affected areas and of unknown origin.

The statement further stated that the Department of Fisheries would continuously monitor the Red Tide situation and the public, fishermen in particular, can assist the department by reporting any discolouration or any mass fish mortality in our waters and beaches by calling 2770066 (during office hours), 8614867, 8878833 or 8787337

No ‘Red Tide’ alert in Sarawak

The Borneo Post, 17 Jan 2013

KUCHING: Waters in Sarawak is free from the ‘Red Tide’ menace thus far as there had been no reports about consumers being affected, unlike in Sabah.

State Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) deputy director Bohari Leng said the only place that is of concern in the state is Lawas because it is nearer to Sabah and sharing the Brunei Bay.

As such, the Marine Fisheries Department is monitoring the situation closely by analysing water samples, shellfish and pelagic fish collected in Lawas.

“The results from these samples are expected to be out this Friday. Since early this month MFD started monitoring in Lawas,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

“We are in close contact with the Department of Fisheries Sabah with respects to assisting in toxin analysis and getting updates on the latest status of Red Tide in Sabah.”

Bohari said the Red Tide menace in Sabah started last month and thus far two deaths had been reported.

He added that the phenomenon was site specific and the first incident in Sabah was reported in 1976, and since then it had been occurring annually.

Until today, the fisheries’ industries and consumers in Sarawak had never been seriously affected by Red Tide.

Meanwhile, Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia’s state director Abdul Razak Ahmad, who was also present, said the import of shellfish from Sabah had been reduced as importers were concern about the people’s safety.

For instance, he said, only 1.3 tonnes of shellfish were brought in from Sabah last month, compared to four tonnes in October and three tonnes in November.

“Those shellfish that were brought in were not from affected areas because not all waters in Sabah are affected by the Red Tide menace,” he said, adding there had yet been any ban on certain seafood in the state.

He added that most imported shellfish were from Peninsular Malaysia. As for pelagic fishes, the state imported them from Sabah, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia.

He opined that pelagic fishes were safe for consumption because they swim freely and the level of toxin accumulated in them was not as critical as in shellfish although they might also be affected because they were plankton feeders.

Nevertheless, consumers were advised to remove internal organs and clean the fish thoroughly before consumption.

Bohari said the toxic Red Tide currently occurs in Sabah was caused by toxic plankton ‘Pyrodinium bahamense var. Compressum’. This plankton is causing Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP).

Five to 30 minutes from consumption, there is a slight tingling progressing to numbness which spreads to face and neck in moderate cases. In severe cases, these symptoms spread to extremities with in-coordination and respiratory difficulties.

There are disturbances in severe cases, evidenced by difficulty in swallowing, sense of throat constrictions, speech incoherence, or complete loss of speech as well as brain stem dysfunction.

Within two to 12 hours, in very severe cases, there is complete paralysis and death from respiratory failure in the absence of ventilatory support.

If ventilation is provided, after 12 hours, regardless of severity, victim starts to recover gradually and is without any residual symptoms within a few days.

Two in Kudat die after eating poisonous sea cucumber

Borneo Post, 4 Feb 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Two men have died after eating a poisonous species of sea cucumber in Sabah’s northern Kudat district.

State Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said the deaths were due to the consumption of a species of sea cucumber known locally as pelanduk laut and unrelated to the red tide poisoning.

“We tested the specimen and found that the sea cucumber has its own toxin,” he said.

The men, aged 51 and 54, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday after they became ill from eating the sea cucumber during a meal with four other people at Kg Suangpai in Kudat.

It is learnt that the two men, who had suffered from severe vomiting, numbness and breathing difficulties, were initially treated at the Kudat Hospital on Wednesday before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here.

Two others who took the same meal were also treated in Kudat but they had less severe symptoms.

The toxic sea cucumber, which has black and purple dots, is found in Kudat’s Marudu bay.

Two people have so far died from red tide poisoning in Sabah since it first occurred off its shores in November in a phenomenon that is expected to last until June.

The red tide phenomenon is triggered by a deadly algae bloom, which produces toxic or harmful effects to marine life and turns the water red.


Red Tide detected off Labuan

Daily Express, 3 Mar 2013

Labuan: Fisheries Director Zainudin b Hj. Abd. Wahab said Red Tide poisoning was detected in Labuan waters as of 11.40am Friday near Pulau Papan which is 600m from the island. He said the survey made by the Fisheries Department found the area enclosed by the Red Tide was about three to four hectares. Samples sent to the fisheries laboratory in Likas found that the Red Tide is of the Pyrodinium bahamense var. compressum kind with a very high concentration reaching 473,600 cells/liter and this is known as “Algae Bloom”. The level considered dangerous to humans is 5,000 cells/liter. Very high concentrations will cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) of the muscles that can cause death. The Department expects the Red Tide to last for about two weeks. Chances are the red tide will be swept away towards Pulau Daat, Menumbok, Sipitang and Lawas, he said.

The public, especially Labuan residents, are advised not to eat sea products such as snails, shells and fish, especially small pelagic fish like selayang/basung and fish kembong/rumahan during the red tide season. Fish caught outside of the three nautical miles (kembong and basung), should have their gills removed and the fish washed well before cooking. The department also noted that the “bubuk” shrimp season had started in waters adjacent to Tanjung Kubung up to UMS. It is recommended that fishermen do not take and consume them because of fears of being contaminated by the Red Tide, he said.

Source: Daily Express

Three more in hospital after eating mussels

The Star, 15 Feb 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Three more people were warded at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here after consuming red tide-infected toxic mussels, bringing the number of victims to 46.

The health department expects more people who had bought the mussels at the Inanem night market here to come forward for treatment.

The red tide phenomenon claimed its third victim on Wednesday when a 23-year-old foreigner from Kampung Inanam Jaya died from suspected poisoning after consuming shellfish bought at the market.

The shellfish was said to have been sold at just RM1.50 per plastic bag.

Sabah health department director Dr Christina Rundi said: “We don’t know how many people actually consumed the clams but we advise those who ate them to seek treatment, whether or not they have symptoms.”

The initial symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, a sensation of “pins and needles” on the skin, followed by loss of control of arms and legs, and breathing difficulty.

The red tide warning was first issued by the Fisheries Department on Dec 12 last year.

The phenomenon is triggered by a deadly algae bloom, which produces toxic or harmful effects to marine life and turns the water red.


One dead, 17 hospitalised after eating ‘red tide’ mussels

The Star, 13 Feb 2013


KOTA KINABALU: A man died and 17 others were hospitalised after consuming mussels and bivalves infected with red tide toxins, in the most serious case of paralystic shellfish poisoning (PSP) this season.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said his department received a report from the State Health Department about the latest incident.

The victims had all purchased cockles and bivalves from street peddlers at the Inanam market, Galid said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the red tide warning was still in place and urged the public to avoid consuming all types of marine shellfish or bivalves.

These include sea oysters, mussels, cockles, bivalves and any type of clam-like seafood.

Beginning late November, the department detected a high amount of PSP toxins in samples of bivalves obtained from the west coast through its red tide monitoring programme.

In January, two teenagers died from consuming poisonous shellfish.

Among the initial symptoms include tingling lips and tongue, a sensation of the ‘pins and needles’ on the skin, followed by loss of control of arms and legs, and difficulty breathing that could result in death.


Many still eating clams from red tide-hit areas

The Star, 23 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Despite numerous warnings against the dreaded red tide off Sabah’s west coast, there are still people selling and consuming clams and other sea products from the area.

Two people have reportedly died due to poisoning caused by toxic clams while there have also been cases of mild poisoning in several areas.

Many sellers are claiming their clams come from the state’s safer east coast and, as such, are not infected by the harmful algal blooms.

These blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae — ocean plants that live in the sea — grow out of control producing toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

The human illnesses caused by HABs, though rare, can be debilitating or even fatal.

Some people here are said to have kept their clams in clean water for at least two days, believing the deadly algae would die, before consuming them.

Fisheries department quality assurance division head Bonyface Jintony said they were conducting operations to stop people from selling these clams, shellfish and other sea products.

“The department is working closely with the Health Ministry to monitor this problem.

“Action will be taken against those found selling shellfish or clams that put the public health at risk.

“People should be aware of the red tide as the department has already issued an alert,” said Bonyface, adding that the toxin in the clams would remain even if they were soaked in fresh water for several days.

He added that recent tests showed the cell algae per litre density was at 100,000 units.

“Anything above 7,000 cell algae per litre is considered critical,” said Bonyface.


Sabah issues red tide alert

The Star, 7 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: The deadly algae bloom, commonly known as the red tide phenomenon, will peak in the next two months statewide.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel Galid said that red tide was recorded in November last year and will begin peaking between this month and February before tailing off by June.

“We are conducting daily tests and have found high toxicity in the west coast,” he said, adding that anything above 400 mouse units (MU) was considered dangerous.

Galid advised people to avoid eating oysters, mussels, cockles and any type of clam though other marine products like fish, prawns and crabs were safe for consumption.

He said the red tide has been seen in waters off Papar, Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran in the west coast while they have not received any reports in the east coast.

Two boys, aged 14 and nine, died from paralytic shellfish poisoning after consuming cockles on Jan 1.

The older boy died a day after eating the shellfish while the second boy died on Friday, according to Sabah Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi in a statement.

The boys had collected the cockles from the seafront at Sepanggar about 30km from here and were said to have eaten them raw.

Galid said clams, even when cooked, are still poisonous and should be avoided during the red tide season.

Red tide is a natural phenomenon whereby algae form large colonies which produce harmful effects to marine life. The density of the algae colours the surface of the sea red.


Shellfish alert as red tide hits Sabah waters

The Star, 3 Jan 2013

KOTA KINABALU: People are warned against eating shellfish or bivalves obtained from the sea following a red tide alert in Sabah waters.

Sabah Fisheries Department director Rayner Stuel said these included oysters, mussels, cockles and any type of clam-like seafood.

“A year-long Red Tide Monitoring programme conducted by the department with the state Health Department has detected the presence of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in samples of bivalves from waters off certain parts of Sabah’s west coast,” he said.

High densities of the PSP-causative organism was found in samples of sea water from Kuala Penyu, Kota Kinabalu, including Gaya Island, Sepanggar Bay and Likas Bay as well as in the Papar, Putatan, and Tuaran districts.

Rayner said the numbers became so large and dense that they released a brownish red colour to the sea at times.

The types of sea life considered safe to eat include all types of prawns and crabs, coral fish and predatory fish.