koiture: koi in koi pond at the innovation centre (Default)
I haven't written much on this blog for a while

Let's say that my thoughts on biosecurity has been refined over and over the past few months. Having gone through a conference in Europe and thinking about it, i think that I can articulate the tension between the government and farmers a little more clearly.

According to Mather and Marshall, one of the tensions that exist between the government body and farmers is due to the habits of farmers in managing disease - the conceptualization of disease is that farming practices that works with the seasons and animal body can minimize disease - that is, by being on the watch for disease symptoms during stressful months when ostriches are kept in higher densities, and undertaking action such as isolating them and feeding them more so they can recover. However, the concept of virulent avian flu comes from without the country. In addition to other external factors (such as ostriches switching from being farmed for purely ornamental products to being farmed for meat), handling of the disease became governmental regulated.

So too in Koi - the tension appeared, and grew, when KHV became a looming factor. Furthermore, this occurred barely 3 years after both SARS and Avian flu pandemics - both pandemics of foreign zoonotic origin, being of a global and international concern. In managing the diseases for Singapore, it is not surprising that AVA and MOH had to work together to handle these zoonotic diseases - and then, when KHV came up, AVA would apply the same biosecurity to koi.

The tension arises when the koi farmers are at odds with the strong and stringent criteria invoked against koi import regulations - ornamental fish in general are no longer allowed to be considered 'healthy' if they, for some reason, had encountered or were in contact with water from koi fish. Koi had been isolated and set apart from other ornamental fish.

It is almost like the koi industry had been quarantined from the rest of the ornamental industry.

And yet, judging from the trend and talking to ornamental fish farmers, ornamental fish itself is an industry that is dying - a "sunset industry" in singapore, also cut out and apart from the aquaculture and agricultural industry itself.

Maybe the mindset of biosecurity was just the beginning.
koiture: koi in koi pond at the innovation centre (Default)
Biosecurity is a very common word in our modern lexicon, especially on farms. Biosecurity is essentially a system of practices meant to limit the spread and transmission of diseases. However, this system of practices came mainly from the transmission of human diseases, and the application of biosecurity practices to animals meant for food was in order to limit human infection. Farms were a perfect way laboratory to refine these practices since animals could be culled in order to limit spread of disease. Biosecurity practices soon became applicable to all animal models, and the term 'biosecurity' became applied to koi, an ornamental fish, where what was at stake was the economic value of the fish, not human life. This paper will ask the question of how the term biosecurity has come to be used with ornamental fish, koi in particular, in the context of Singapore's koi industry, and how this had been implemented and impacted the industry itself, as well as whether koi farms produced biomedical knowledge.

I shall use archival data from the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and oral histories to try an answer these questions. Drawing on Donaldson 2008, I will look at how the state and farmers in Singapore understand and negotiate what the biological is and how they draw boundaries around it, and how they conceptualise the ideas of risk and security is.

Donaldson (2008) said that "Events don't happen to things; things come out of events". This framework is useful in looking at how the Asian birdflu incident 2003 caused the eventual decline of the ornamental fish industry in Singapore today, twelve years later.

Biosecurity measures include quarantine; in previous iterations before it had a 'name', measures taken by farmers were to isolate new incoming animals or plants, and if they were infected with some sort of pathogen, to disinfect. As our understanding of how disease spreads grew, these measures took on a new name.

I noticed that the term biosecurity itself has certain connotations - coming from biological security, and it's all about protecting animals from undesirable biologicals.

Can we see these viruses? These bacterial infections? In koi, the biggest, worst news is the koi herpes virus (KHV). And when we see the signs of the KHV in koi, it's too late. KHV is highly contagious, to the point that even the water of the fish cannot come in contact with another fish, for it would be contaminated.

Oddly enough, if the fish survives the KHV, it is a potential carrier for the rest of its life, and it might well be disfigured permanently. This means that KHV is a death sentence to the fish, either immediately during the course of the disease, or after, since it no longer can be shown.

So biosecurity is all about the prevention of such deadly diseases.


koiture: koi in koi pond at the innovation centre (Default)

About this Blog

So this is a blog about my research into the history of koi aquaculture.

Singapore's aquaculture industry had always been about survival, and I would love to say that the ornamental fish industry had actually helped Singapore survive.

This blog will attempt to talk about how the industry helped Singapore, and then the various factors that influenced its decline, using koi rearing in Singapore as a case-study of the ornamental fish industry as a whole.

October 2016

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