Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cases of Illegal Fishing in Singapore's National Parks and Reserves Increasing

A group of people supposedly fishing illegally in Singapore's Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Singapore has reported increasing cases of illegal fishing in its national parks and reserves with several notices distributed by the agency National Parks Board (NParks) growing from 96 in 2012 to 271 in 2014. The threat of illegal fishing makes up the bulk of poaching cases in the country. There were only two incidents poaching that did not involve fish last year and ten in 2012. NParks, which manages four nature reserves and more than 300 parks, associated the rise in the number of illegal fishing and poaching incidents to increased enforcement. The figures were given in response to media inquiries over the most recent case of supposed illegal fishing at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve last Sunday. According to Ben Lee, founder of nature group Nature Trekker, he saw a group of people on a raft in the reservoir pulling in a large net to check for fish. He immediately notified the park's authorities. Sharon Chan, the reserve's deputy director, indicated that officers were set up on the reserve and the people involved were interrogated at the scene with the help from the police. She further added that there are few cases of illegal fishing at the reserve because of deterrent measurements put in place. For example, there were two instances of illegal fishing at the reserve last year, none in 2013, and one in 2012. Since illegal poaching is one of the main problems affecting the management of Singapore's nature reserves, NParks is known to carry out consistent enforcement patrols with the help from a volunteer group known as Nature Wardens. Each volunteer plays an able role and is trained on how to approach and communicate with those who carry out illegal activities. However, Mr. Lee feels that authorities should act more quickly to apprehend poachers when an incident is reported. He pointed out that fishing with nets causes more damage to the environment since more fish are captured, compared to other fishing methods such as hook-and-line fishing. He further added that the loss of fish in Singapore's waters would impact the food supply for other animals like birds and rare species such as oriental small-clawed otters and saltwater crocodiles.
The threat of illegal fishing in Singapore's waters could affect the populations of rare species like this saltwater crocodile.

The threat of illegal fishing in Singapore should be publicly addressed, in order to help save the country's national parks and reserves from being over-exploited of fish. These animals are crucial as a major food source for not just birds, but oriental small-clawed otters, saltwater crocodiles, and other rare species of animals. Some of these animals play a major role as keystone species and keep the fish population in check. If the fish population declines, it would tremendously affect the populations of otters, crocodiles, and other rare species. This is why it is extremely essential that the public should jointly collaborate with authorities in curbing any illegal fishing or poaching activities occurring in Singapore's protected areas. This joint collaboration should be established so that the public and authorities can exchange information regarding the whereabouts of potential poachers suspected of causing damage in the country's national parks and nature reserves. That way, the efforts to put a stop in poaching and other illegal activities within the vicinity of Singapore's protected areas can be carried out much faster.

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