Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Siltation killed fish at Batang Rajang

It was reported that hundreds of fish surfaced in the Batang Rajang as they struggled for air, some already dead. There also have been several reports of such incidents in Belaga and Kapit since late last year which was cause for much worry for the people there. Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) had found that the fish had practically suffocated to death and not poisoned.

The cause of the incident is very simple. Rajang River became too shallow due to heavy siltation. Siltation was caused by heavy and uncontrolled deforestation in upriver areas.




Now for the blaming game. Land Development Minister, James Masing said the local people for carrying out shifting cultivation have always been blamed for causing erosion but this (fish dying in large numbers) has not happened until recently.

We all know that the erosion is due to uncontrolled logging in upper Batang Rajang. The culprits (who happen to be associate of Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak) are the timber companies. They rape the virgin jungle of Sarawak which resulted in massive deforestation and erosion and siltation which eventually make the Batang Rajang proned to flooding (which severely affected Sibu town) and hindering water nagivation due to shallow river. And now, the fishes are dying.

Who is going to enforce new policy to manage the environment in Sarawak or who is going to implement whatever corrective measures when the culprits are best friend to powerful politicians in Sarawak?

Related posts:
* Mighty Rajang River too shallow
* Siltation in Rajang River due to heavy deforestation
* Sarawak logging industry - one of the culprit
* Who's protecting Sarawak virgin jungles

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From TheBorneoPost

Not poison but silt that killed fish: NREB
By Raynore Mering and Florence Mervyn

KUCHING: The mysterious death of fish in Belaga and Kapit may have been solved and experts say it was not due to poison.

Initial investigations carried out by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) had found that the fish had practically suffocated to death.

NREB controller Dr Penguang Manggil told The Borneo Post yesterday that the dead or dying fish were found with their gills clogged with mud.

Water sampling and test were carried out on the tributaries of the rivers leading to Bakun or Belaga and Kapit, and except for Murum river, the Balui, Belepeh and Linau rivers were all very murky.

“The water turbility (murkiness) was very high and there was high total suspended solid content. This could have been caused by erosion upstream. The gills of the fishes were found to be blocked by silt, and they are believed to have suffocated,” said Penguang.

According to Penguang, as the rivers’ water level subsided, the current of the rivers became stronger and this would also stir up more sediment.

Penguang said it was very unlikely that the fish had died because of poisoning or chemical contaminants in the rivers. Nevertheless, he said NREB had sent samples to the Chemistry Department for tests.

In Belaga yesterday, hundreds of fish surfaced in the Batang Rajang as they struggled for air, some already dead. There have been several reports of such incidents in Belaga and Kapit since late last year which was cause for much worry for the people there.

Penguang said the erosion of the rivers was caused by human activities upstream and he agreed that it would have long term consequences on the rivers as well as aquatic life. He said the death of the fish emphasized the importance of environmental impact assessment studies and the cooperation as well as awareness of all parties, including the local communities and the industries.

“We would like to call on everyone to ensure that whatever we do, it will have minimal impact on the rivers,” said Penguang.

Pengaung yesterday revealed that NREB had submitted a request for RM4 million from the federal government during the mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to implement an ‘Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Bakun Catchment Area’.

However, he said the request was not approved and NREB had again submitted a fresh request for funds under the coming 10th Malaysia Plan.

“The management plan is important due to the sensitivity of the area. It will be a blueprint for what we can and can’t do there. We hope that with this plan, we can better protect the Bakun catchment area,” Penguang.

Earlier yesterday, Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing took NREB to task for the length of time it took the agency to find out what was causing the death of the fish and it stopping a recurrence.

In pointing out that the massive death of fish had already occurred twice, he fumed: “It’s been more than two months since NREB said it will investigate this and they have still not made their findings public.

“If the findings say that it is because of the mud suffocating the fish then the kampung people are just as good as these scientists who are paid so much.”

Masing, who is the assemblyman of Balleh, one of the affected areas, said that to his knowledge, the NREB was required to enforce a green area or buffer zone along the river banks to minimise erosion caused by human activities.

“The people carrying out shifting cultivation have always been blamed for causing erosion but this (fish dying in large numbers) has not happened until recently.

“NREB should find out who, or what, is causing this severe erosion and it should take action against the responsible parties without fear or favour. That is what they are there for,” said Masing.

Belaga police chief DSP Bakar Sebau told The Borneo Post’s sister daily, Utusan Borneo, that his station had received calls from the public about 10.30am and he had sent his officers to the ground to investigate.

“When they reached the river, my officers saw hundreds of fish, including baung and labang, floating on the surface. We found that their gills were full of mud and we believe the muddy water in the Batang Rajang is causing this,” he said.

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1 comments:

Harmony said...

If they knew, they should catch the fishes and eat it all up before it died and turn rotten

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