Alert over red tide: Fish from Sabah banned

Borneo Post, 15 Dec 2012

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: In view of the growing concern of the red tide phenomenon in Sabah, the Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has temporarily slapped a ban on the importation of small fish from Sabah, Borneo Bulletin reported.

According to a press release issued by the Department of Fisheries, people are banned from importing the following fishes from Sabah; Tamban, Aur-Aur, Rumahan Bini, Rumahan Laki, Temanong, Selidai, Sanglar, Geronggong, Basong-Basong, Pusu, Kuasi and Termanong Bersurat, Molluscs, including oysters, cockles and mussels from Sabah are also banned.

The latest monitoring and laboratory analysis carried out by the Department of Fisheries yesterday has shown that the waters of Brunei Darussalam are now affected by red tide. The affected areas are Pelumpong and Pancang Hijau.

The Department of Fisheries of Sabah, meanwhile, through its media informed the public that some of the water areas of Sabah are affected by red tide, including Kuala Penyu, Pulau Gaya, Sepanggar Bay, Menggatal Bay, Likas Bay, Papar, Putatan and Tuaran districts.

As a precautionary measure, members of the public are reminded to remove the guts, gills and other internal organs of fish before cooking. The public should also refrain from eating small fish of which their gills, guts and internal organs cannot be removed and also Molluscan shellfish as well as fish from any of the affected areas or from unknown origins.

The Department of Fisheries will continue to monitor the red tide situation. In the meantime, the public, especially fishermen, can assist the department by reporting any water discolouration or mass fish mortality in the country’s water and beaches by calling 2770066, 8614867, 8878833, 8847846, 8787337 or 8675409.

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.

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.