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Fishing in our reservoirs

- For better or for worse?

The Public Utilities Board (presumably - for newspaper articles say 'the authorities') has opened up three more resevoir parks at Lower Peirce, MacRitchie and Upper Seletar Reservoirs. Fishing grounds in Kranji reservoir have existed since 1985, so what's the fuss about? Well, unlike earlier fishing grounds, these three reservoirs all reside within the Central Catchment Area, our largest remaining naturally vegetated area, and a stronghold for our native fish fauna.

Some believ that the tenacity with which the Central Catchment has been protected may be compromised by the allocation of fishing grounds. Already irresponsible anglers have used live bait, started fishing before the official opening, and strayed off the fishing grounds. See observations from the first day. Can this be circumvented by patrols and self-policing between anglers themselves?

What are about the fish that some are so worried about? According to Peter Ng & Kelvin Lim of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (Ng & Lim, 1997, Garden Bulletin, 49: 245-265), the freshwater fish of Singapore has suffered an extinction of 43%, and a remaining 35 species of indigenous (naturally occuring or native) freshwater fish survive. Of these, 33 species are known from Nature Resrves, and 21 appear to be restricted there. However, 52 species of fish have been introduced in our waters, of which 17 species are present in our Nature Reserves! This is substantial when compared to the native population of 35 species. However, indications suggest that the major threat to native fauna would arise more from holistic changes to habitats rather than direct competition between species. But has any of this any relevance to the reservoir sites? And is NParks aware?

In the preface of this same volume (Habitatnews No. 99-33A: Thu, 24th June 1999), Dr Tan Wee Kiat, the CEO of the National Parks Board said that 'A Recreational Masterplan for the Nature Reserves has been formulated taking into account the distribution of sensitive species.' I.e. 'they will determine the kinds of activities that can be allowed in the nature reserves, and where they can be carried out, so that they are compatible with the plant and animal life there.'

While the reserves are under the juridiction of NParks, the reservoir parks are managed by PUB, who consulted with NParks on this matter.

NParks has responded to constructive arguments in the past and local angling enthusiast Tang Beng Yong has decided to provide his arguments to them and others (PUB, ENV etc). His contribution can be read at the link below. An NParks official has already replied to him - "Many thanks for the input and information. Helps in making informed policy decisions."

Issues mentioned so far: fishing is a bloody sport; an angler's dream realised; native versus introduced species, the need to protect native fauna, abuse and overfishing by irresponsible individuals, the use of live bait and pollution, sport fishing, etc.


Fishing in 3 central reservoirs may
have adverse ecological impact


This letter to the forum by one of our avid local anglers with a ken interest in natural history was sent out as a quick response to the Straits Times on 20th Demcember. He has put up a comprehensive argument, with leads to various


Reports in the Straits Times

Okay to fish at 3 more reservoirs by NEO HUI MIN
The Straits Times, Friday, 15th December 2000
Spots will be opened at MacRitchie, Lower Peirce, and Upper Seletar following a proposal by fishing body.

Hook the fish, but watch your baits by MARGARET PERRY
The Straits Times, Monday, 18th December 2000
Three reservoirs open for sport fishing today, but anglers fear that the spots will be hit by the inconsiderate use of banned bait like bread and chicken liver.


Forum page

Fishing ranks with blood sports by MICHAEL LUM YAN MENG
The Straits Times, Wednesday 20th December 2000
"I was shocked and dismayed when the Public Utilities Board announced that it was opening up three more reservoirs for fishing (ST, Dec 15)."

Thanks for fulfilling an angler's dream by DIAN YONGSHENG
The Straits Times, Wednesday 20th December 2000
"For this anglers' dream-come-true, I am most grateful to the Public Utilities Board, National Parks, the Singapore Sports Council and the Sport Fishing Association of Singapore for giving me, and other like-minded people, space to de-stress."

Impose catch-and-release rule at reservoirs by DANIEL CHEE EU LENG
The Straits Times, Wednesday 20th December 2000
'I do not understand how it is possible for the authorities to open up three more reservoirs for fishing when there is still no proper monitoring at either Kranji or Seletar reservoirs.' ... 'What is the point of promoting sport fishing if the three reservoirs are left barren once the meat hunters come to decimate the fish stocks there?'


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