MIRI: Fish and other seafood harvested from waters off northern Sarawak is safe for consumption.
Sarawak health and fishery authorities gave the assurance in the light of the threat from the toxic red-tide algae which has infested the waters off southern Brunei near the border.
Brunei health authorities have taken a precautionary step by banning the import of several species of fish from Sarawak and Sabah, but the authorities in Sarawak said this ban does not mean that local fish is contaminated.
Sarawak Health and Medical Services Director Dr Yao Sik Chi said yesterday that there were no reports of food poisoning in the state due to the consumption of fish.
“Our health records to date show that there are no cases of poisoning resulting from the red-tide phenomenon, not even in Miri (the nearest town to Brunei).
“As far as the health department is concerned, based on the current situation, our fish products are safe,” he said in a telephone interview from Kuching.
The red-tide phenomenon has affected a large part of Brunei’s coastal belt, including the waters off Kuala Belait, a small town inside the sultanate’s border, which is just next to the Sungai Tujuh Immigration checkpoint on the Sarawak side.
The red tide refers to massive concentration of toxic planktonic algae in the water.
Miri Fisheries Department deputy chief, Siew Woo Tie said the Brunei Health Authorities told his department that the ban on several fish species was just a precautionary measure.
“It doesn’t mean that the fish from Sarawak is already contaminated. We have collected samples of water from different locations off the coast here for testing in our laboratories.
“We are collecting more samples on a regular basis. We are also conducting surveillance very near to the Brunei border. So far, we have not had any conclusive results yet on the water samples we have tested. More tests are being done,” he stressed.
Siew said the department would take all necessary steps to prevent the red-tide phenomenon from affecting the state.