NParks says dead blacktip reef sharks likely caught in gill net, reminds public about sustainable fishing methods
Eight blacktip reef sharks were found dead, with their gills damaged, in the waters off Pulau Hantu on Sunday morning.
SINGAPORE: The eight blacktip reef sharks found dead in waters off Pulau Hantu were likely caught in a gill net, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Wednesday night (Aug 31).
This was based on the online images, description of the injuries and the location of the carcasses provided by divers who found them, said Dr Karenne Tun, director of NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre, in response to CNA’s queries.
She added that the observation was in line with that of non-profit conservation group Marine Stewards.
There was no sample collected from the carcasses during the dive, said Dr Tun.
More than 100 species of fish, including the blacktip reef sharks, are found in the waters. “To protect our native marine biodiversity, NParks encourages members of the public to carry out responsible recreational fishing at designated fishing spots, using more sustainable fishing methods,” said Dr Tun.
There are various fishing gear and methods, ranging from hook, rod and line, fish traps and nets, each varying in its impact on the environment, she added.
“Fish traps and nets tend to be more indiscriminate and when lost in the sea, will continue to trap and kill fish and other marine life.
“For this reason, net fishing and the use of wire mesh traps are not allowed in areas managed by NParks,” said Dr Tun.
Areas such as the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Labrador Nature Reserve’s rocky shore, Chek Jawa Wetlands, waters around Coney Island Park and Admiralty Park have been designated as "no fishing" spots and are managed as sanctuaries for fish.
NParks is also working closely with fishing communities to promote responsible fishing. Pamphlets on sustainable fishing practices have also been distributed to shops, boating marinas and fishers, said Dr Tun.
“Together with the Friends of Marine Park Community, NParks engage anglers through the Marine Stewards Singapore to promote best practices for recreational fishing,” she added.
This includes practising voluntary catch-and-release fishing, where fish, especially juveniles as well as endangered and threatened species, are released back into the sea if not to be eaten.
Signboards have also been put up at popular recreational fishing areas like Bedok Jetty to educate fishers and encourage best practices, said Dr Tun.
The blacktip reef sharks were found dead on Sunday morning with their gills damaged. Divers found the carcasses of the juvenile sharks during a routine dive at Pulau Hantu, which is located off the south of Singapore.
Marine Stewards said in a Facebook post that several divers counted the sharks, all at around the same area - Hantu Jetty - at a depth of 10 to 11m.
Photos posted on its Facebook page showed the dead sharks with their gills ripped or shredded.
A Marine Stewards spokesperson previously told CNA that according to the diver's accounts, all the sharks had damage to their gill areas.
The spokesperson had added that gill nets are "generally an indiscriminate killer" and catch anything that passes through.