Best of our wild blogs: 28 May 17



Cerianthid search at Cyrene
wild shores of singapore


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As sea levels rise, Singapore prepares to stem the tide

Seawalls and rock slopes already protect over 70 per cent of Singapore's coastline. But experts suggest more ways to face the impact of climate change.
TANG FAN XI Straits Times 28 May 17;

With climate change will come rising sea levels, and while Singapore has taken steps to brace itself against the consequences, some experts say more can be done.

Sea levels are projected to rise between 0.25m and 0.76m towards the end of the century, according to Singapore’s Climate Action Plan published in 2016 by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS).

As a low-lying island, the rise in sea level poses the most immediate climate change threat to Singapore, it said. Much of the country lies only 15m above the mean sea level, with about 30 per cent of the island less than 5m above the mean sea level.

So the authorities have been preparing early to safeguard Singapore.

In 2010, the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) carried out shoreline restoration works to stabilise a section of the beach at East Coast Park. This consisted of large sand-filled bags, laid several metres into the ground to be level with the low tide, helping to reduce sand erosion.

In 2011, the minimum land reclamation level in Singapore was raised from 3m to 4m above the mean sea level.

And last year, Singapore raised the coastal Nicoll Drive in Changi by up to 0.8m.

The BCA is now conducting the Coastal Adaptation Study (CAS), which aims to safeguard the country’s long term coastal protection needs, and is expected to be completed by end 2017.

Today, over 70 per cent of Singapore’s coastline is protected with hard structures such as seawalls and rock slopes. While lauding the efforts, experts have pointed out various ways in which these can be boosted.

Associate Professor of Geography at National University of Singapore (NUS) Wong Poh Poh, who also served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, believes that another approach which could help is the use of amphibious architecture, which he points out is cheaper than raising land or building seawalls. Such buildings stay on the ground during dry times. But when water comes, they float on the surface, while their foundations anchor them to the ground.

He gave the example of amphibious homes in Maasbommel, the Netherlands, which have concrete barges anchoring light timber-frame construction on top.

Prof Wong also feels that Singapore should incorporate more natural methods using mangroves to protect coastlines. He stressed the importance of mangroves which help to dissipate waves and trap sediment, potentially serving as a flexible form of coastal defence while preventing erosion.

“Utilising mangroves is not only less costly, if the process is done carefully, they are still able to be effective in protecting shorelines to keep up with rising sea levels, which hard methods such as sea walls are not able to adapt to,” he said.

Assistant Professor Dan Friess, a mangrove expert at the NUS Department of Geography, explained: “Mangrove restoration isn’t new in Singapore, with examples on Pulau Semakau and Pulau Tekong, and steps are currently underway to assess the potential for restoration on Pulau Ubin too.”

Assistant Professor Winston Chow of the NUS Department of Geography pointed out that not many other countries have “similar constraints” like Singapore in terms of preparing for climate change - given its unique geographical circumstances as a low-latitude island city-state.

More research is needed to look at the impact of climate change on various parts of the urban system, noted Ms Helena Hulsman, associate director of Singapore operations at Deltares, which jointly undertakes applied research in water, subsurface and climate change with NUS under the knowledge alliance NUSDeltares.

Ms Hulsman suggested looking into coastal protection solutions through “building with nature”, giving examples of successful pilot studies of ecologically optimised coastal protection solutions in the Netherlands, using natural processes to increase wave dampening, reduce erosion and enhance soil stability.

Dr Aron Meltzner of Nanyang Technological University’s Earth Observatory of Singapore said there are overseas examples that Singapore can learn from. These include the Maeslant storm surge barrier in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which augments a system of levees and dikes already in place, and the Thames Barrier, which is a movable flood barrier in the River Thames east of Central London.

There were regional fluctuations in sea levels long ago not due to global warming, and that could happen again in the future, exacerbating the effects of sea-level rise, said Dr Meltzner.

Assistant Professor Winston Chow from the NUS Department of Geography said in order to truly combat the problem of rising sea levels, more can also be done to “address the root cause of climate change” by relying more on non-fossil fuel energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric energy.

Ms Ria Tan, a nature enthusiast who runs the wildsingapore.com website, believes that the public and the Government need to have more conversations about these issues and how to solve them.

“I feel that more engagement has to be done in the face of rising sea levels as it is also a pressing issue that Singapore faces. More discussions and attention in this area can better allow agencies to understand the concerns of citizens and educate them on the issue, just like how the issue of water is heavily discussed,” said Ms Tan.

Prof Wong agrees that more open discussions have to be held by the Government with various groups within societies such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and citizens. He also feels that more people have to be trained to gain an expertise in climate change adaptations.

He said: “There is a lot more work to do if we truly want to combat rising sea levels and climate change."

What other countries are doing


MALDIVES


Aerial view of Maavelavaru Island Resort in Maldives. PHOTO: JLL HOTELS & HOSPITALITY GROUP
As the world’s lowest-lying nation - an average of only 1.3m above sea level , Maldives was the first to sign the Kyoto protocol to fight global warming, and has built sea walls constructed of concrete tetrapods surrounding its capital, Male, The Guardian reported

Since 1987, the government has also been reclaiming land. Hulhumale is a reclaimed island that now has hospitals, schools even government buildings built above the rest of Maldives.

The Maldivian government launched shore protection projects in 2015, which involved the construction of two breakwaters and a revetment, a sloping structure built to absorb the energy of incoming water.

THE NETHERLANDS


Bicycles are seen reflected in the water of a canal in Delft, Netherlands. PHOTO: REUTERS
The Netherlands is a flood-prone country with a quarter of its land below sea level.

This has made flood control critical, and the government has dedicated over €400 million (S$598 million) into flood protection a year.

The nation has built a system of dykes - walls or slopes that regulate water levels, dams and floodgates .

The Maeslant barrier, with two floating gates, each the length of the Eiffel Tower and weighing four times as much, that closes off the New Waterway, a ship canal, in case of a storm tide.
The barrier had to be closed once in 2007, and with the sea-level rise projections, it may have to be closed more often in the future.

The Dutch are also making use of a sea wall to protect Maasvlakte, Europe’s biggest port.
The wall is built using 20,000 concrete cubes, a slope of stones and constructed dunes, at the height of 14m, the maximum projected height of water in the year 2060.

These new storm protections cost €725 million.

VENICE


Gondolas and boat-taxis drive on the Canale Grande in Venice. PHOTO: AFP
Venice in Italy is facing the pressing problem of slowly sinking into the seas while facing the sea level rise at the same time.

This led to the passing of the MOSE - Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or the Electromechanical Experimental Module - scheme by the government in 2003 to construct an artificial barrier in the sea which would protect the city from floods.

It cost £3 billion (S$5.4 billion) for construction, with estimated maintenance costs of £8 million (S$14.5 million) per year.

The system consists of 78 giant steel gates with huge panels fixed to concrete bases dug into the sea bed. Compressed air will be pumped into the hollow panels, forcing them to rise when a dangerous high tide is predicted, reported The Telegraph.

The system is currently close being finished. The barriers will be able to support a 3m tide and will protect Venice for a century, according to web magazine CityLab.

The city has also adapted in other ways. Raised walkways are installed-temporarily in busier parts of the city; and businesses block their doors until the water sinks. Sirens sound a warning throughout the city when high tides are forecast with information provided in real-time online, reported The Guardian. Canals are also dredged regularly.


Singapore Underwater: Travel through time and experience rising sea levels with ST’s virtual reality project
Rebecca Pazos Straits Times 28 May 17;

It is year 2500. The Merlion statue overlooking Marina Bay is half submerged. This is because sea levels could have risen by more than 6m, based on projections by scientists.

Hard to imagine what it might look like? Travel through time and see for yourself with The Sunday Times' first virtual reality (VR) project, Singapore Underwater.

You can experience it here: str.sg/SGunderwaterVR.

The project looks at the possible long-term impact of climate change and rising sea levels on Singapore.

Through VR , readers can experience for themselves scenarios that might otherwise be too distant in the future to imagine.

Still think climate change affects only future generations?

The project and accompanying essays also look at the more immediate impact we are already experiencing, from dry spells to unpredictable rainfalls.

To give a more complete picture, the essays also highlight the measures that Singapore and other countries have put in place to mitigate the impact of rising sea levels.

The VR project, created by the ST Digital team, uses web VR technology. This means it can be viewed on desktops, smart phones and tablets - just like a regular webpage - without having to download an app to view it.

But for the full immersive experience, readers are encouraged to use a VR headset or viewer.

ST will be giving away 300 Google VR Cardboards to readers. Be among the first to register at str.sg/cardboards.


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480 new species discovered in Singapore

Almost 150 species are world firsts; almost 20 rediscovered here over past five years
Lin Yangchen Straits Times 27 May 17;

Over the last five years, more than 480 new species of plants and animals have been discovered in Singapore by the National Parks Board (NParks), researchers and naturalists. And almost 150 of those are world firsts.

The agency also said yesterday that almost 20 species of plants and animals had been rediscovered here over the last five years.

NParks has also put the afterburners on its Species Recovery Programme, increasing the number of species to 94, up from 46 last year.

Other than that, the largest biodiversity survey by the public and plans for a new park connector in Thomson were two other causes for celebration at this year's Festival of Biodiversity organised by the agency.

The two-day festival, launched at Nex shopping mall in Serangoon yesterday by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, includes free art-and-craft workshops, a nature-inspired art exhibition, talks by local conservationists and guided walks in nature reserves around Singapore.

It is a collaboration between NParks and some 30 partners - including universities, schools and non-governmental organisations - to encourage appreciation of Singapore's natural heritage.

The festival is also the culmination of a week of activities organised by NParks, among which was a nationwide wildlife survey that involved nearly 3,000 members of the public at 84 sites.

It recorded almost 900 species of plants and animals from both land and sea, including a coral species new to Singapore.

Previous public surveys only involved one site at a time and far fewer participants, said NParks.

To ensure that species have access to suitable habitat, NParks undertakes projects to enhance natural areas around Singapore.

For example, the agency announced yesterday that one lane of Old Upper Thomson Road would be converted into a park connector by early 2019.

INSPIRING WORK

Seeing the animals for themselves in the forest, gets to them. And they realise they can actually do something about it. They get inspired when they see young people like us who are doing our bit.

MS CHLOE TAN, 28, who organises nature walks, public library roadshows and school talks for the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, an independent group of nature lovers.
The road runs between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and a patch of forest that will become Thomson Nature Park, and will become a one-way drive.

NParks said this would create a more conducive environment for both wildlife and park users.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development, who attended the event, said: "While we marvel at our rich biodiversity, we cannot take it for granted. Conservation requires a long-term effort."

He added that as Singapore's conservation efforts bear fruit, there would be more human-wildlife encounters, and highlighted the importance of educating the public and developing new ways to manage human-wildlife issues.

Independent wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai, 53, was heartened by the predominance of young leaders and volunteers taking on such roles. "We need youngsters to speak out, because it's their future," he said.

One of the participants is Ms Chloe Tan, 28, who organises nature walks, public library roadshows and school talks for the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, an independent group of nature lovers.

She signed up when one of her tutors at the National University of Singapore needed someone to help set up the group's website.

She said many of the young volunteers are life sciences students, but there are also those who join nature walks and get converted.

"Seeing the animals for themselves in the forest, gets to them. And they realise they can actually do something about it. They get inspired when they see young people like us who are doing our bit," said Ms Tan.


Found: Rare orchid and secretive snake

Despite decades of biodiversity surveys - all the way back to the great naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the 19th century - new species are still being found. More than 500 animal and plant species were discovered or rediscovered in Singapore over the last five years, the National Parks Board (NParks) revealed yesterday at its annual Festival of Biodiversity.

One of them, a solitary carpenter bee, has been given the name "sayang", meaning "love" in Malay, on account of a heart-shaped marking on its back. Ceratina sayang, which lives alone in holes bored in wood, was found in a bloom of giant orchids in Dairy Farm Nature Park in 2014. At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve last year, an NParks staff stumbled upon an orchid, Acriopsis ridleyi, that had not been seen since 1889. Not taking any chances, the agency took it for propagation at the National Orchid Garden nursery.

One of the latest discoveries was made during a survey at Sisters' Islands Marine Park last week, when National University of Singapore Assistant Professor Huang Danwei discovered the coral Favites vasta in Singapore for the first time.

He was guiding members of the public taking part in one of the nationwide surveys, or BioBlitzes, by NParks.

Other discoveries include a tree that had been standing in the former Warren Golf & Country Club for years but was identified only in 2012 during the construction of NUS' University Town, and a secretive snake that leads a muddy existence in Nee Soon Swamp Forest. Both are new records for Singapore.

NParks said some of these species may play crucial but hidden roles in maintaining Singapore's natural habitats, and has taken measures to enhance their populations or protect their habitats.

94

Number of species in NParks' Species Recovery Programme.


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Malaysia: Puntung, one of Malaysia's last Sumatran rhinos, is dying of cancer

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 May 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Puntung, one of Malaysia's last surviving Sumatran rhinos, is now at death's door.

The female rhino has been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer, which has been spreading rapidly over the last few weeks.

Specialists from various countries have all delivered the same devastating verdict: with or without treatment, the cancer will be fatal for the 25-year-old rhino.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga, announcing this, said that as of today, Puntung can no longer breathe through her left nostril.

"She can also no longer vocalise. She is in pain and her condition is declining fast.

"Other than administering painkillers, there is nothing more anyone can do," he said.

Tuuga said the department has been left with little choice but to make a very difficult decision.

"We are left with no other recourse except to agree with professional medical advice and accordingly, we have authorised euthanasia."

"This was a very difficult decision to make, but the specialists agree that on balance, this is the best out of a very small number of unpleasant choices," he said.

The euthanasia will be done on June 15.

In April, Puntung underwent an operation to extract two molars and a premolar from the upper left side of her jaw, which had been causing severe abscess.

The surgery was performed by veterinary dentist Dr Tum Chinkangsadarn from Thailand, who found that the source of the abscess was a formation caused by an accumulation of bacteria on the severely-calcified molars.

The calcification also loosened two adjacent teeth.

Tuuga said it turned out that the swelling on Puntung’s left cheek that alerted them to the infected tooth root had a more serious origin.

"After the surgery, the swelling progressed, and two subsequent biopsies revealed squamous cell carcinoma," explained Tuuga.

Sabah is home to only three out of the last few critically-endangered Sumatran rhinos. The remaining numbers are in Indonesia.

Puntung, another female rhino Iman, and male Kertam, are being cared by a non-governmental organisation, Borneo Rhino Alliance, at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.

Puntung was captured in 2011. It was subsequently established that she was the last remaining wild rhino in the Reserve.

The loss of Puntung would prove to be a catastrophic loss to the future of the species as at 25-years-old, she still has a few years of egg production left to be used for in-vitro fertilisation.

Puntung, the Sumatran rhino, is dying
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 28 May 17;

KOTA KINABALU: All hope of saving Puntung – one of the remaining three Sumatran rhinos in Sabah – is gone after veterinarians confirmed that she is dying of squamous cell cancer.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Puntung had earlier undergone dental surgery, which was believed could save her and her species.

However, euthanasia is now being considered.

“We thought that we had saved her from her life-threatening dental infection a few months ago.

“But now, it turns out that that the swelling on Puntung’s left cheek that alerted us to the infected tooth root had a more serious origin,” he said when contacted.

He said the swelling on Puntung’s cheek had progressed after her surgery and two subsequent biopsies revealed she has squamous cell carcinoma.

Tuuga said the cancer has been spreading rapidly over the past few weeks and specialists from several countries agree that it would be fatal – with or without treatment.

“As of today, Puntung can no longer breathe through her left nostril. She can no longer vocalise, she is in pain and her condition is declining fast.

“Other than administering painkillers, there is nothing more anyone can do,” he said.

Veterinarians and other specialists are now making preparations to perform Oocyte retrieval (the process of collecting mature eggs directly from a female’s ovaries, prior to their release from ovarian follicles) on Puntung.

If the procedure is succesful, Puntung may be able to contribute to the survival of her species.

Sabah’s Sumatran rhino population has dwindled to just three specimens in captivity, with the animal considered extinct in the wild.
9


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Malaysia: Tapir trapped in swamp rescued

The Star 28 May 17;

BALING: A 100kg tapir injured itself when it fell into a swamp at an oil palm plantation.

“It looked very tired,” said villager Zakaria Senawi, 65, after the animal was rescued.

He believed that the tapir had lost its way before it fell into the swamp in Kampung Charok Kelian here.

The herbivorous mammal, with injuries to its head and eyes, was found by the villagers at about 8.30am yesterday.

Baling District Civil Defence Force officer Mohd Faizol Ab. Aziz said they received a distress call at about 9.10am.

“The animal, weighing about 100kg, is believed to have been separated from its group,” he said. “It was exhausted, probably due to hunger.”

Mohd Faizol said four of his personnel, together with the help of firemen, wildlife officers and villagers, took about 30 minutes to pull the tapir out from the swamp.

It was later handed over to the state Wildlife Department.


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Best of our wild blogs: 27 May 17



Cerianthid search at Changi
wild shores of singapore

Reefy Changi still alive
wild shores of singapore

Mating Pygmy Squids
Hantu Blog


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Singapore has to manage population growth carefully: PM Lee

Lee Li Ying Channel NewsAsia 27 May 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has to manage the population carefully, even as it grapples with its low fertility rate and the issue of having a stable population, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday (May 27).

Mr Lee said that with the country's total fertility rate at about 1.3, Singaporeans are far from replacing themselves. About 30,000 babies are born as citizens every year and, to top up, about 20,000 foreigners become new citizens annually.

With about 50,000 new citizens every year, Singapore can "almost sustain a stable population", he added.

But it is not all about the numbers.

Mr Lee said: "We have to manage the inflow carefully, and make sure that the people who come can integrate into our society, make sure they have the abilities and skills to contribute to our economy, and make sure their hearts are in the right place and they will become good Singaporeans. We are a country, not simply a city or an economy."

The prime minister was speaking at the citizenship ceremony on Saturday, which saw 150 residents from Ang Mo Kio GRC and Sengkang West SMC officially became Singaporeans and presented with their citizenship certificates.

He also congratulated the new citizens and urged them to continue to deepen their roots here.


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Far from people’s minds, but food security a looming issue

SIAU MING EN Today Online 27 May 17;

SINGAPORE — In the eyes of many, Singapore is a food paradise.

When hunger pangs strike, affordable food is readily available: Hawker centres, coffee shops, eateries, and supermarkets - chock full of fruits, meat, vegetables and all other kinds of food - dot the island, with many operating around the clock. One need not even step out of the house to get food, given the array of delivery services.

With such abundance of food - indeed managing food waste is a headache for policymakers - food security is probably the last thing on Singaporeans’ minds. An irony, some experts noted, given that more than 90 per cent of the food needed to feed the Republic’s population comes from overseas.

“Supermarkets are full of food… (but) Singapore (becomes) very vulnerable when there are major disturbances to the production of food,” said Professor Paul Teng, a food security expert at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). “In that sense, it’s easy (for Singaporeans) to get a false sense of food security... If there is a big pandemic tomorrow, nobody can move (food) around, how is Singapore going to react?”

Earlier this month, the issue of food security came under the spotlight, when the Government announced that new plots of farm land with longer leases have been set aside to promote high-tech farming. National Development Minister Lawrence Wong noted that growing food locally is another way to enhance food security, apart from diversifying Singapore’s food sources.

Food security has shot to the top of many countries’ agenda in recent years, due to the havoc on farmlands caused by climate change, explosive growth of the middle class in Asia and the resulting spike in food consumption, as well as unpredictable geo-politics and international relations - to name but a few factors. Over the past decade, the Government has embarked on extensive efforts to diversify its food sources. As a result, Singapore today imports food from 170 countries, up from 160 in 2007, according to data from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Over the same period, the number of countries from which Singapore imports fish increased from 70 to 80, for example, while the figure for fruit imports went up from 40 to 60.

Malaysia and Brazil are the top sources, with substantial supply from several other regional countries: More than a third (35 per cent) of Singapore’s supply of chicken, 17 per cent of fish, 93 per cent of duck and 76 per cent of eggs come from across the Causeway. Brazil accounts for almost half (47 per cent) of Singapore’s imported chicken, 30 per cent of pork, and 53 per cent of beef. Vietnam, India and Thailand are the major suppliers of rice to Singapore. In terms of fish imports, Indonesia (21 per cent) and Vietnam (20 per cent) are the other the main sources, although 77 other countries provide 42 per cent of Singapore’s supply.

While Singapore’s food security is not under any immediate threat, experts stressed the need for policymakers to start relooking its strategy - including ramping up domestic supply - in light of evolving global trends. While Singapore has a sound policy of building resilience in its food supplies, more needs to be done in an increasingly uncertain and volatile external environment, they said. “To talk about food security at (this) point in time without recognising (Singapore’s) vulnerability is kidding ourselves,” said Prof Teng, who stressed the need for better risk management by having key food sources that are more geographically diverse.

Policymakers will need to come up with new strategies, said Associate Professor Christopher Vas from Murdoch University. “They say, when things are not broken, don’t try and fix it... But as things continue to evolve, bilateral relations might get tenuous, sources of supply could be challenged,” said Assoc Prof Vas, who noted the risks of over-reliance on a country for one particular product.

THREATS AND CHALLENGES

In recent years, there was no shortage of global food scares and supply disruptions.

During the 2007 and 2008 global food crisis, which was caused by a myriad of factors including droughts and rising oil prices, Singaporeans had to pay more for food, as prices of imported food spiked 12.1 per cent on average. The authorities stepped in by reassuring the public that there was ample supply - including a two-month stockpile that rice importers are required to keep in government warehouses - and advised people against hoarding rice. Help was also on hand for less well-to-do families.

In 2014, prices of eggs rose when Malaysian farms were suspended from exporting eggs to Singapore after their eggs had been found to contain Salmonella Enteritidis — a bacterium that causes food poisoning. Most recently, Brazil was involved in a rotten-meat scandal in March, after its police found that major meatpackers had bribed health inspectors to keep rotten meat on the market.

Gradually, climate change and changing dietary preferences would tilt the balance of global food demand and supply, the experts said.

One of the biggest changes in the global food security landscape has been the dependency on trade for countries to secure their food supplies, noted Prof Teng, an adjunct senior fellow at RSIS’ Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies. “Even in the most secure countries like the US, they also import food.

The reason is that no country produces everything it wants, mainly because the consumers, the society, has gotten more diverse in its demands for food,” he said.

This is particularly so in countries where a middle-class population is growing quickly, he added.
Globally, more protein is being consumed by people. To meet this demand, countries have to import even more animal feed, such as corn and soybeans, from countries in the Western Hemisphere.

On the supply side, there is also declining land and water resources for farming - the latter partly due to contaminated water, and the longer dry seasons or late monsoons which are symptoms of climate change.

Farmers around the world are also growing older but not enough millennials are willing to take over the job.

“The net result is that, from year to year, we’re not as certain of our food supplies as previously,” Prof Teng warned.

Apart from health scares, RSIS research fellow Tamara Nair, who does work on food security and hunger in the region, pointed out that geopolitical tensions and developments in countries where Singapore import food from could disrupt its supplies and affect prices, given how inter-connected the world is today. “Any socio-political tension in one of our major source countries will inevitably affect us in one way or another. They might decide to temporarily stop exports for instance, which can affect our supply briefly, at least until we activate our other sources,” she said. Neverthelesss, she noted that while there is rising protectionist sentiments, food trade is unlikely to suffer given that all countries benefit from it.

Apart from diversifying food sources, Professor William Chen, the director of Nanyang Technological University’s food, science and technology programme, noted the need to uphold food safety as well through stringent regulations. In extreme cases, food imports could potentially be used as a weapon if countries let their guard down, he said. “It is very important that we can pre-empt rather than react,” he said. This means developing new technology to detect suspicious substances in food, he added.

INCREASING ROBUSTNESS

Despite its high dependence on food imports, Singapore is regarded as one of the most food-secure countries around the world.

In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Food Security Index last year, Singapore slipped one position to third compared with the 2015 rankings. The index measures the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food in over 100 countries.

“There is plenty of food (in Singapore), because it is affordable... People have access to clean food, safe food and can eat more than three times a day if they want,” said Dr Cecilia Tortajada, a senior research fellow at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “The only way for Singapore to be unsecured (in food supplies) is if all trade fails.”

Still, other experts including Prof Teng argued that Singapore’s food security has to be measured more holistically, and take into account the Republic’s ability to withstand disruptions to its food supplies.

Working with Syngenta Asia Pacific and Frontier Strategy Group, he helped develop the Rice Bowl Index which measures the “robustness” of countries’ food security. Singapore fared poorly because it is unable to produce a significant amount of agricultural products domestically. “It is based on a concept of robustness, and what robustness means is the ability to withstand disturbances to your food security system,” he said.

The global food crisis in 2007 and 2008 prompted the Singapore authorities to conduct a study to analyse the country’s food supply resilience.

In recent years, they have conducted sourcing trips abroad and started the practice of overseas contract farming. An example was the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone in northeastern China.

First mooted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2008, the idea was for AVA to provide technical advice to the Jilin authorities to maintain a disease-free zone and subsequently, diversify Singapore’s food sources by regularly exporting key food items to the Republic.
But the 1,450 sq km food zone – roughly double the size of Singapore – has been hit by delays.

An integrated pig farm was initially slated to start exporting pork to Singapore by the end of 2014 but construction works for the project only began last month. As the zone’s first livestock project, it is expected to rear up to one million pigs, of which, some will be exported to Singapore.

Nevertheless, the initiative exported its first product to Singapore towards the end of last year, with the Fragrance 43ÂșN japonica rice being sold at FairPrice Xtra and FairPrice Finest outlets.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Yeo Chun Cheng, Ascendas-Singbridge Group executive vice-president of sustainable urban development, said the integrated pig farming project will be developed in two phases and the first batch of pork is expected to reach Singapore by 2019.

Other ongoing projects include a processing plant for cheese-related products.

Mr Yeo said: “There is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach to tackling food security and safety, but we hope that the Sino-Singapore Jilin Food Zone will prove to be a strong component of that solution by promising to produce safe, sustainable and high-quality food for Singapore.”

Farms here provide less than 10 per cent of Singapore’s overall food supply - namely fish, vegetables and eggs. Some experts felt there is scope to double it.

To that end, AVA has also urged local growers to invest in technology to maximise their agricultural produce, which is meant to be a buffer when overseas food supplies are disrupted.

Earlier this month, the Government announced that it would be releasing 60ha of land in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah for farms to boost the local food supply. This comes as the leases of 62 farms in Lim Chu Kang will expire in 2019.

The Government’s long-standing targets are for local farmers to provide 30 per cent of Singapore’s supply of eggs, 15 per cent of fish and 10 per cent of leafy vegetables. But the farms here have so far fallen short on two counts: They are producing 24 per cent of eggs and 10 per cent of fish. Nevertheless, the target for leafy vegetables has been exceeded (12 per cent).

GOVT EFFORTS

Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Melvin Chow, group director of AVA’s food supply resilience group, reiterated that given its heavy dependence on food imports, Singapore is “considerably exposed” to global price and supply fluctuations, as well as persistent threats of food supply disruption and food contamination internationally.

The country is also vulnerable to global driving factors, such as population growth, rising urbanisation and incomes, climate change, disease outbreaks and scarcity of resources, he added. “These trends are intensifying, and their interplay is heightening food security challenges more than ever,” he said.

To overcome these challenges, the AVA adopts three strategies: Food source diversification, internationalisation and local production.

Diversifying food sources would mitigate disruptions to food supply from a particular region, which can be caused by extreme weather and climate events. “By buying from many different sources, Singapore is better buffered against potential food shortages and price volatility,” said Mr Chow.

AVA said it is constantly exploring new overseas sources of food, provided that their internal food safety standards meet its criteria. Some new food sources include Sarawak where Singapore has been importing frozen pork from since 2015. Other examples include importing quail eggs from Malaysia since last year and hen eggs from Thailand from this year.

By venturing overseas, local farmers can open up new markets and overcome the land constraints in Singapore. They can also help enhance Singapore’s food security by, for instance, exporting their produce back to the Republic. Having our local food producers successfully operating overseas will strengthen our food security,” said Mr Chow. He cited the examples two local farms which have gone to other countries to develop vertical farms: Apollo Aquaculture in Brunei, and Sky Greens in Thailand and China.

Turning to the local agricultural production in Singapore, Mr Chow said this remains an important aspect of food security and forms a “crucial buffer” should overseas food supplies be disrupted.

AVA has been working with farmers to raise production through modern practices and technology, improve productivity, manage animal diseases, monitor water quality and promote local produce to consumers.

Farmers can also tap on AVA’s S$63million Agriculture Productivity Fund to modernise and invest in innovative technologies and advanced farming systems.

While these strategies have served Singapore well, Mr Chow said AVA will continue to “review current measures and develop new ones”. “We recognise that understanding and building resilience to the effects of climate change is an on-going effort,” he added.

MAKING FOOD SECURITY A PRIORITY

With local growers producing less than 10 per cent of Singapore’s overall food supply, Assoc Prof Vas felt that farms here can meet up to 20 per cent of the country’s needs. While raising domestic agricultural produce would strengthen the country’s food security, the authorities need to also take into account the farmers’ business considerations, said Assoc Prof Vas, who is the director of the Singapore Centre for Research in Innovation, Productivity and Technology.

Adequate leases are needed to give farmers more certainty and this in turn, would enable them to invest in research and development, he added.

“I don’t think we’ve maximised our (potential) at all and for the longest time, Singapore has been dependent on the supply chain,” he said, adding that Singapore is a perfect laboratory for agri-tech ventures.

Beyond national strategies, Dr Tortajada said that attitudes have to change as well, in order to enhance Singapore’s food security. Citing the problem of food waste, she called for more investments in public education. “(Food wastage) is putting more pressure on the planet, in terms of land and water and you pollute more to bring food to the people who will throw it,” she said.

Last year, Singapore generated 791,000 tonnes of food waste. Of this amount, only 14 per cent was recycled.

Some experts pointed out that Singapore faces similar vulnerabilities when it comes to food and water. And while both are considered strategic resources critical to national security, there appears to be greater impetus from the Government to strive for self-sufficiency in water.

Others, such as Dr Nair and Prof Chen, however, pointed out that the approach has to be different, Unlike water, there is a variety of food items, they noted.

“How would you use the same policy as you would with water when you are dealing with so many different sources and the commodities are so varied?” said Dr Nair. Still, Prof Chen added: “But for food, we really take (it) for granted. There’s so much wastage.”

Going forward, Prof Teng argued that food security should be given the same priority. “Singapore securitised water... many, many decades ago... (But) with food, I would argue that we have not securitised food at all,” he said.


Singapore farmers seek greener pastures abroad, and the Republic could be better off for it
SIAU MING EN Today Online 27 May 17;

SINGAPORE — When Apollo Aquaculture Group chief executive officer Eric Ng realised his fish farm lease in Lim Chu Kang would expire in 2019, the 44-year-old started looking for an overseas alternative.

“Land is very limited here, and the cost of setting up a farm in Singapore is very high… But Brunei has vast land and abundance of sea water,” he said.

Now, he owns a plot of land in Brunei that can produce up to 5,000 tonnes of trouts, groupers, snappers and sea bass when it is eventually operating at full capacity within the next five years. In comparison, he produces about 110 tonnes of fish a year from his farms in Singapore.

The fish farmer was spurred to venture overseas after a trip to Israel about seven years ago, where he accompanied the Singapore authorities overseas to learn about the Israeli’s fish farming technologies.

“We were in the middle of a desert… but if (the Israeli farmers) were asked to leave the place – Israel is always at war – these farmers would be able to pack up overnight and set up the farm at another place to continue farming,” he said.

“That really inspired me to really think about how to make things mobile… The knowledge in creating an environment suitable for the products that you are trying to grow or farm, I think once you have that know-how and soft skill, it’s going to enable you to do a lot more that you can think of,” he said.

Mr Ng is one of a handful of Singaporean growers that have started farming on foreign land, a suggestion some experts felt could help Singapore strengthen its food resilience by securing more sources of food.

Professor Paul Teng, a food security expert at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), felt that Singapore could turn to countries which consistently have agricultural surpluses for contract farming, so that there are better chances of importing food from them during a crisis. These countries include the United States, Argentina and Australia.

However, Professor William Chen, the director of Nanyang Technological University’s food, science and technology programme, pointed out that such a practice was not fail-safe. “If you rely on other people’s land, there is always a risk that the relationship turns sour,” he added.

Even without formal contracts, some Singaporean farmers have ventured overseas.

Former civil servant Lai Poon Piau, 52, recalled how he had to settle for plain prata after the roti prata stall near VivoCity ran out of eggs a few years back, due to the global food crisis which saw prices of food shoot up. It was then that he realised how vulnerable Singapore was, in terms of food security.

Seeking to reconnect with his farming roots - both his father and grandfather owned plantations - Mr Lai eventually acquired 80ha of land in Kampot, Cambodia in 2010 and started farming peppercorns three years later.

Out of the 50 tonnes of pepper he produces each year, only 100kg is being exported to specialty stores and restaurants in Singapore. But he is gradually trying to build up his distribution channels for export. “I would like to sell all of it to Singapore if I can… Eventually, the idea is to use Singapore as a hub to export (my pepper) to other parts of Asia as well,” he said.

For the Singaporean father-and-son pair behind 5th Element, a retail store in Ho Chi Minh City selling organic produce from their 4ha farm in Da Lat, Vietnam, their goal has always been to produce food for Singapore.

Mr Patrick Low, 28, said: “Food security is the main reason we’re in this business as we believe that every individual has the right to safe, chemical-free produce and foodstuff.”

Their farm grows 120 varieties of fruits and vegetables, and harvests 15 to 20 tonnes of processed produce each month.

While the Government has been pushing for high-tech agriculture in Singapore, Mr Low said traditional methods should not be discounted as well, particularly on overseas land that have fertile and suitable climates.

The authorities could also provide technological support for instance, to help improve productivity and raise the quality of the produce grown by Singaporean farmers overseas, he added.

More can also be done by the Government to fund international research and technological developments in farming, some experts said.

Prof Teng noted that Singapore has been slow to support global work on this front, as there are no immediate benefits to local farms. “But we cannot be so short-sighted,” he said. Singapore could indirectly benefit should exporting countries remain productive in agriculture and have sufficient surpluses to export, he pointed out.


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Indonesia: Study finds moratorium does little to curb deforestation

Moses Ompusunggu The Jakarta Post 26 May 17;

A new study has found forest cover losses in Indonesia remained high during a six-year moratorium on forest conversion.

Using latest satellite data from the University of Maryland, the World Resources Institute (WRI) said in its study that deforestation increased significantly in 2014 and 2015 after declining in 2013, suggesting that the government’s moratorium on the issuance of permits for primary forests and peatlands had “scant effect on forest protection.”

“This could be because the moratorium is issued in the form of Presidential Instruction, which does not entail legal consequences for the perpetrators,” the WRI said in its study.

The study recorded that forest cover loss in Indonesia decreased in 2013 before increasing to 796,500 hectares (ha) and 735,000 ha in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The WRI said almost half of nationwide deforestation in 2015 took place in Kalimantan, where it reached 323,000 ha. The forest cover loss rate was also alarming in Papua although the government said it would prioritize the moratorium, which aimed at slowing unsustainable agriculture expansion into primary forests and peatlands in the easternmost region.

The study also found the highest level of deforestation within moratorium areas in 2015 was in Kalimantan, reaching 69,000 ha, followed by Sumatra with 39,000 ha and Papua with 25,000 ha. (ebf)


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Best of our wild blogs: 26 May 17



Launch of the Biodiversity Library of Southeast Asia
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

3 June (Sat): R.U.M. at Balik Chek Jawa
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative


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Bat man has a secret mission on Pulau Ubin

Despite its small size, Singapore is home to a large variety of animal and plant species. But conserving them is an ongoing challenge. In this five-part weekly series to mark the ongoing Biodiversity Week, The Straits Times has been highlighting some success stories. Today, in the last part of the series, we look at the bats of Pulau Ubin, and ask NParks officers why they love their jobs.
Samantha Boh Straits Times 26 May 17;

With their hairy bodies, razor-sharp teeth and macabre appearances in horror films, bats are feared by many.

However, these creatures of the night actually help maintain a balance in the ecosystem - pollinating plants, dispersing seeds and keeping insect populations in check.

Their numbers worldwide are under threat, with their habitats destroyed by deforestation or colonies wiped out by humans because of fears fuelled by myths about vampires.

In Singapore, the lack of forested areas makes it difficult for bats to thrive. That's why they have earned themselves a spot in the National Parks Board's (NParks) species recovery programme, which is aimed at conserving Singapore's endemic and threatened plants and animals.

About 30 bat boxes and two bat houses, man-made structures for bats to roost in, have been set up across Pulau Ubin. They are meant to promote the growth of more colonies, and to attract new bat species to the island.

NParks' focus is on species that are critically endangered in Singapore, including the Megaderma spasma, known commonly as the Lesser false vampire bat, that lives on Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong, and the Hipposideros cineraceus, or the Ashy roundleaf bat, which has been spotted only on Pulau Ubin.

The Ashy roundleaf bat was first recorded here three years ago and, so far, two colonies have been found in abandoned structures, said NParks manager for conservation Noel Thomas, who spotted them during one of his nature surveys.

The exact location of their dwellings is a well-kept secret, to protect the bats from being disturbed by human activities.

This bat species, named after its leaf-shaped nose, is not endangered in other parts of South and South-east Asia but its numbers are believed to be small here, and estimated at fewer than 100, said Mr Thomas, who is studying them.

They are forest-dwelling bats which use echolocation. This means the bats produce sounds that bounce around their surroundings and return to their ears, to detect insects to feed on.

Their sighted cousin, the Lesser false vampire bat, is a more established species here with about 120 individuals. Several colonies are found in disused structures around Pulau Ubin. It looks like the vampire bat but does not consume blood, feeding primarily on insects.

"Insect bats can go out and consume insects in large numbers at night, so they do play that ecological role to maintain a balance in nature by keeping insect numbers in check," said Mr Thomas, 35.

Globally, bats make up one-fifth of all mammals, with about 1,000 species of bats, many of which are fruit and nectar bats.

Fruit bats help to disperse seeds while nectar bats pollinate flowers by carrying pollen on their furry coats from one flower to another as they feed on nectar. "They are also important for scientific research... as they have strong antibodies that protect them from contracting diseases," added Mr Thomas.

As part of the bat species recovery programme, the bat boxes and houses were placed last December in various habitats across Pulau Ubin, such as mangroves and coastal forests, to provide more roosting options.

"These species of bats that reside in rainforests around South-east Asia roost in large tree holes which can hold hundreds of bats, but we don't have that kind of environment here," said Mr Thomas, who will be checking all the structures for bat colonies next month.

Research, however, shows that it can take up to three years for bats to colonise such structures. Another effort to promote the conservation of bats includes a survey of known bat colonies to ensure that their environment is hospitable.

BAT FACTS

Only mammals capable of sustained flight

Associated with vampires in Western cultures, but believed to bring good luck in Asia

There are about 1,000 species of bats, and they make up one-fifth of all mammals

All bats are nocturnal

Bats live an average of 20 years

The popular phrase "blind as a bat" is not quite right - some bats have well-developed eyes which they use to hunt their prey


NPARKS OFFICERS ON WHY THEY LOVE THEIR JOBS AND BIODIVERSITY

MS BAZILAH IBRAHIM, HERBARIUM MANAGER, SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS

I love my job because... of the experiences it allows me to be part of. Also, I have awesome colleagues at the Herbarium. They are genuinely passionate about what they do and are always willing to share their knowledge about plants. As a bonus, I get to work in a pretty neat environment.

I find herbarium work fascinating because... I get to work on specimens that have passed through the hands of many celebrated botanists and collectors. I also get a glimpse of Singapore's history and its natural heritage.

I feel that biodiversity is important because... we rely on it for science, research, the economy and more. It tells the story of our natural heritage.

MS HOLLY SIOW, MANAGER OF BIODIVERSITY (TERRESTRIAL), NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY CENTRE

I love my job because… I feel like I can make a tangible difference to the future of biodiversity conservation in Singapore.

I find frogs fascinating because... given their permeable skin (which makes them vulnerable to environmental contaminants), studying the frogs in an area can tell you a lot about the general health of the ecosystem. They are also adorable.

I feel that biodiversity is important because... it plays a critical part in many aspects of our life, such as the views we wake up to each morning, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and even the air we breathe.

MR ZESTIN SOH, MANAGER OF PARKS

I love my job because... there is rarely a typical day at the office. My job allows me to be involved in activities revolving around my passions - working with nature and people in Singapore.

I find bees fascinating because... they arecritical to ecosystems but are under-appreciated and misunderstood. Most people do not realise that Singapore is home to more than 100 native bee species, and that they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours - even blue.

I feel that biodiversity is important because... so many incredible stories about the natural world that possess the ability to thrill and teach lie within its intricacies. Also, biodiversity is an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage - we would not be Singapore without it.

MR NOEL THOMAS, MANAGER FOR CONSERVATION (PULAU UBIN)

I love my job because... I get to monitor species that are threatened and propose measures to aid their conservation.

I find bats fascinating because... they communicate in ways we cannot detect without special equipment and are the only flying mammal. They are nocturnal animals that work hard to pollinate our flora and keep insect numbers in check.

I feel that biodiversity is important because... it takes many species to form ecosystems that provide services used by all living things. Better species diversity means natural sustainability for all life forms.


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Singapore must be more transparent in shark fin trade: Report

Singapore was ranked the world’s second-largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong, according to trade figures from 2012-2013, say conservationist groups Traffic and WWF.
Channel NewsAsia 26 May 17;

SINGAPORE: Conservationist groups called on the Singapore Government to improve transparency and conduct "more robust monitoring" to tackle the global shark fin trade, after the country was found to be one of the world's largest shark fin trader by value.

According to the latest report released by wildlife-trade monitor Traffic and conservation group WWF on Friday (May 26), Singapore was ranked the world’s second-largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong, according to trade figures in 2012-2013.

The recorded export and import values of shark fin in Singapore was S$50.4 million and S$65 million, respectively, during that period, second only to Hong Kong's S$57.2 million for export and S$215.4 million for import trade, the report said.

Traffic and WWF added that in-depth analysis into the shark fin trade was hampered by a lack of detail in Singapore Custom's import and export data. They recommended that Singapore Customs begin recording shark data using detailed Harmonised System Codes (HS Codes), developed by the World Customs Organisation for the classification of goods.

The system allows for better distinction between dried and frozen shark products, which is critical for accurately determining actual trade volumes and provide further insight into the species in trade, WWF and Traffic said.

Accurate, openly available information would also enable individuals and businesses to make responsible choices about which products they ​consume, they added.

“Any country that dominates a particular trade has an extra responsibility to ensure it is transparent and traceable,” Ms Kanitha Krishnasamy, senior programme manager for Traffic in Southeast Asia, added. “Key to any effort aimed at enabling legal and sustainable sourcing, and long-term viability of shark populations, is the open availability of product-specific trade data."

According to a survey by WWF released in February 2016, three out of four consumers in Singapore think the government is not doing enough to protect sharks and would support legislation against shark fin consumption.

Commenting on the latest report, Ms Elaine Tan, CEO of WWF-Singapore, said: “Support to reduce the consumption of shark fin has grown as more people and businesses now believe in keeping sharks off our plates and in the oceans."

"The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores. More robust monitoring of volumes and protected species will set a positive precedent for other countries and contribute to healthier shark populations and oceans,” she added.

Singapore edging up as world’s second-largest shark’s fin trader
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 26 May 17;

SINGAPORE — Despite various moves here in recent years, such as hotels removing shark’s fin from their restaurant menus, for example, Singapore has moved up the ranks to become the world’s second-biggest trader of the product, a report has found.

Traffic, a wildlife-trade monitoring network, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which published the report, noted that an in-depth analysis of the trade here was hampered by a lack of detail in the Singapore Customs’ import and export data.

They urged the government department to begin recording data on the trade using the internationally recognised harmonised system (HS) codes developed by the World Customs Organisation, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has told them that this was under way. The use of HS codes to classify goods, including shark commodities, was introduced in 1967, Singapore Customs told TODAY.

The report indicated that Singapore should “immediately scrutinise” its practices including its HS codes, which do not distinguish the different types of shark products or provide for all protected species.

The analysis of Singapore’s role in the shark and ray trade found that, on the export front, the country placed second after Hong Kong, with trade valued at US$40 million (S$55 million) between 2012 and 2013.

This was 11.1 per cent lower than Hong Kong’s US$45 million. Singapore is also the second-largest importer of shark’s fin after Hong Kong. Imports over the same period were valued at US$51.4 million, compared with Hong Kong’s US$170 million. As a re-exporter of the product, Singapore is placed second as well, averaging 2,422 tonnes yearly between 2012 and 2013 — which is one-tenth of the world’s total exports. It re-exported the commodity to countries such as Hong Kong, China and Japan.

A Traffic report in 2013 showed that Singapore was one of the world’s top four exporters and the third-largest importer of shark’s fin between 2000 and 2009.

In recent years, businesses from hotels to airlines have taken steps to stem the trade. In 2014, Singapore Airlines Cargo stopped carrying shark’s fin on its flights. That year, hotel giants, including Hilton, also said no to dishing out the ingredient at the properties they own and manage.

In their report, Traffic and the WWF said that more detailed codes would allow shark products to be distinguished between “dried” and “frozen”, which is crucial to determining trade volumes accurately.

The two groups have started discussions with the AVA to put in place product commodity codes for all

30 species of sharks and rays that are subject to international trade restrictions under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Such information would also allow individuals and firms to make “responsible” choices on the products they consume or use, they added.

The impact of hunting sharks for their fins has been the subject of much debate. More than 70 million sharks are killed yearly across the globe, and many species are caught at “unsustainable levels”, Traffic and the WWF said.



Calls for better traceability after report identifies Singapore as world’s second largest shark fin trader
TRAFFIC 26 May 17;

Singapore is the world’s second largest shark fin trader by value after Hong Kong according to a new report by TRAFFIC and WWF, who are calling on Singapore to improve transparency in the global shark fin trade through more robust monitoring.

The recorded value of the export trade was US$40million (S$50.4 million) for 2012–2013, a close second after Hong Kong’s US$45 million (S$57.2 million), while the corresponding figures for import values were US$170 million (S$215.4 million) for Hong Kong, with Singapore well behind but still second on US$51.4 million (S$65 million).

Analysis of Singapore-specific trade data showed that the country imported 14,114 tonnes of shark fin over a six year period from 2005–2014*. According to the report, The Shark and Ray Trade in Singapore (PDF, 3 MB), the country was also the world’s second largest re-exporter of shark fin after Thailand, accounting for 10% of the world’s total exports from 2012–2013, averaging 2,422 tonnes per year.

“Any country that dominates a particular trade has an extra responsibility to ensure it is transparent and traceable,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Manager for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “Key to any effort aimed at enabling legal and sustainable sourcing, and long-term viability of shark populations, is the open availability of product-specific trade data.”

In-depth analysis was hampered by a lack of detail in Singapore Customs’ import and export data, and the report recommends a number of changes in the way information is gathered. For example, Singapore Customs should begin recording shark data using detailed Harmonized System Codes (HS Codes), developed by the World Customs Organization for the classification of goods. TRAFFIC and WWF have been informed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) that this is underway.

More detailed information will allow for distinction between dried and frozen shark products, which is critical for accurately determining actual trade volumes, and provide further insight into the species in trade—clearly vital information. Accurate, openly available information would also enable individuals and businesses to make responsible choices about which products they consume.

Sharks and rays found for sale in Singapore. Singapore's import / export figures of rays reveals that there is high domestic demand.
“Support to reduce the consumption of shark fin has grown as more people and businesses now believe in keeping sharks off our plates and in the oceans. The fact that Singapore is a significant trader means that the solution to the global shark crisis lies right here on our shores. More robust monitoring of volumes and protected species will set a positive precedent for other countries and contribute to healthier shark populations and oceans,” said Elaine Tan, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Singapore.

TRAFFIC and WWF have embarked on discussions with the AVA based on findings of the report, targeting the full implementation of product commodity codes for all 30 species of sharks and rays subject to international trade restrictions under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

More than 70 million sharks are killed every year around the world, with many species caught at unsustainable levels. According to the IUCN Shark Specialist Group, nearly 25% of sharks and rays now face extinction, with overfishing for fins and meat the major drivers. Slow growth, late maturing and the production of few young further leave them vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from depletion.

About the report
The Shark and Ray Trade in Singapore is the first detailed analysis of the country’s role in the shark and ray trade, and provides a full picture of Singapore’s role in the shark fin and ray trade from source to market. It was conducted as part of the global WWF and TRAFFIC Shark & Ray Initiative.


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