Mysterious mass fish deaths along Rajang River


How did these fish die along a stretch of the Rajang River?

The NREB should check on the siltation levels in the river. Have the levels increased after heavy rains or storms? Was there a  sudden mud-flow which could have covered the fish gills with mud and silt or stirred up other sedimentation? If so, what caused the heavier siltation or mud flow?

The Borneo Post Online – –

NREB investigating cause of dead fish
Posted By rajlira On 6th January 2009 @ 10:00 In Local

KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) yesterday began investi-gating the cause behind the huge number of dead fish floating in the Rajang River between Long Murum in Upper Belaga and Kapit.

NREB Controller Dr Penguang Manggil said in a phone interview the investigation was expected to take “a few days”.

He stressed it was still too early to determine the cause of the problem. “At the moment, we can’t pinpoint (the cause) and nobody can tell what exactly is the cause until an investigation is carried out.”

Penguang explained that the investigation would include taking water samples from the river for analysis.

If the water is found to contain chemicals, NREB will then trace the source of the chemicals.
“If it is found out that the problem is caused by human factor, then the law is quite severe on this because not only has the action destroyed the fish but has also contaminated the water,” he warned.
It was reported last Saturday that fish like empurau, semah, tapah, mengalan and labang were among the species found floating in the river.

The situation left Belaga folk very worried, prompting them to call the authorities concerned to investigate the matter urgently.

Minister of Land Develop-ment Dato Sri Dr James Masing said he was “caught by surprise” by the incident.
When contacted yesterday, Masing, who is also Baleh assemblyman, said a full investigation was necessary.
He said it was hard to believe the fish died due to muddy water, adding that the muddy water “has been there for a long time”.

“A thorough investigation is necessary, and if it is found that the problem is caused by human negli-gence, then appropriate action must be taken against the culprits,” he stressed. Masing said he had received many telephone calls from the people since the incident wanting to know what actually happened.

He said he was particularly worried and concerned that the dead fish from the river might be sold outside Belaga in places such as Miri and Bintulu.

“For the people in Belaga, they will not consume the fish, but for the people outside the area who do not know about it, they will buy the fish, so for the sake of consumers, the relevant authorities need to act very fast about this.”

It is reported that police are investigating the case.

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