Fishing with long nets endangers wildlife, people

Straits Times Forum 21 May 13;

MANY people have taken up recreational fishing as a hobby.

Using a fishing line seems to be the top choice of anglers. This is followed by using long nets that are stretched across the width of a river or canal - anything that gets caught in the net gets hauled out of the water. However, this poses a danger to certain creatures such as monitor lizards and terrapins, which may get caught in these nets.

Kayaks and motorised boats that ply the area may also get ensnared. I once saw the propeller of a boat getting caught in a long net at a canal in Kallang.

I hope the authorities will answer these questions:

- What fishing methods are permitted in our water bodies, and how do the authorities view the use of long nets in rivers and canals?

- What regulations are in place to protect wildlife in such areas?

To strike a balance between recreational fishing and wildlife conservation, signs could be put up to educate the public on how to fish using low-impact methods.

As a number of anglers are from countries such as China, India and Thailand, the signs should carry translations and make use of pictures to convey the message.

Mallika Naguran (Ms)

Have single agency to enforce law against illegal fishing
Straits Times 21 May 13;

WE HAVE made great strides in turning Singapore into a garden city with natural waterways and lush vegetation. However, are we doing enough to protect our precious fauna?

Every day, one spots people fishing in our reservoirs and canals despite the presence of "no fishing" signs. Besides using fishing rods, these poachers use long drift nets and fish traps.

The seeming lack of enforcement sends a wrong signal to the public that it is permissible to fish in our protected water bodies.

What penalties do these poachers face, or are they merely given a warning? Perhaps it is time to impose hefty fines and publicise these cases in media reports, to serve as a warning to others.

The present "no fishing" signs are not conspicuous and there is no hotline for people to call if they spot illegal fishing.

I have called the national water agency PUB but it was unable to locate the place I was trying to describe.

I also found out that parks come under the purview of the National Parks Board while the water bodies in them come under the PUB. This leads to confusion over which agency is in charge of enforcing the law against illegal fishing. Would it be better to have one agency in charge of all matters relating to the protection of our natural resources?

Lee Swee Mun