Coastal fish farms near Singapore's Pulau Ubin have been affected by the oil spill caused by the tanker collision at Pasir Gudang Port in Johor on Wednesday. Though Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said that they have immediately issued oil-absorbent pads and canvases to 11 farmers, nature enthusiasts are worried about the potential damage to flora and fauna of that area.
AVA also said that one of the farms reported that it has lost 100kg and 200kg of fish after the mishap, according to The Straits Times.
The accident happened after a Singapore-registered container vessel, Wan Hai 301, collided with a Gibraltar-registered container vessel, APL Denver, off the Johor port around Tuesday midnight. Following the accident, the APL Denver's bunker tanks received severe damages and 300 tonnes of oil spilt into the water.
"The two oil patches are mainly contained and no new sightings of oil have been reported," said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), according to the Straits Times. Even the western coastlines of Pulau Ubin (OBS Jetty) and Nenas Channel reported that oil patches are visible in the water. MPA has also engaged nine of its vessels to clean up the mess there.
Farmers are concerned
Meanwhile, the authorities have alerted coastal fish farmers in the East Johor Strait and advised them to immediately stop breeding their fish. They were also asked to use canvas skirting to prevent fish stocks from getting contaminated by oil.
"Let's just hope the fish won't die. We have been harmed by the red tide in the last few years, and now we have an oil spill," said a worried farmer, identified Mr Ho, reported The Straits Times.
This incident has also triggered frenzy among people in the nearby cities who consume the fish on a daily basis. Fish is even transported to Singapore from these 60 farms in the East Johor Strait. Officials have collected fish samples from the farms for food safety tests.
How bad are oil spills?
National University of Singapore's Department of Biological Sciences professor, Dr Huang Danwei , explained why oil spills are so dangerous. He said that even though oil spills spread very fast and are extremely detrimental to aquatic life, the most hazardous aspect of the disaster is that it takes a long time to clean the water. "On the water, oil floats and can coat anything that moves through it. Sea otters and seabirds, for example, are large animals that are most affected because their fur and feathers lose their functions upon contact with oil," said Danwei, according to the news website.
It is also reported that this is the sixth accident involving a Singapore-registered vessel since 2012. However, the last oil spill that affected Singapore was in 2010 when 2,500 tonnes crude oil leaked into the Singapore Strait following a major collision.