SINGAPORE - A dead otter was found in a cage along the Marina Promenade on Wednesday (June 14), and a man was caught setting traps in the area that same day, water agency PUB said in a statement on Friday.
PUB informed the Otter Working Group and handed the dead otter over to Wildlife Reserves Singapore for a post-mortem.
PUB's cleaning contractor had found the dead otter in the cage along the Marina Promenade in the Kallang Basin at about 11.40am on Wednesday.
At 5.30pm that day, PUB reservoir staff caught a man setting up traps in the reservoir along the Marina Promenade. PUB said it will be taking enforcement action against him under the Public Utilities (Reservoirs, Catchment Areas and Waterway) Regulations 2006.
Otter page OtterWatch said in a Facebook post on Friday that the dead otter is suspected to be a member of the Bishan family, as one of the pack was missing for two days.
National University of Singapore (NUS) biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, who heads OtterWatch, told The Straits Times that he was angry and frustrated to hear about the death of the smooth-coated otter in a fishing cage.
"The use of fish traps and gill nets is an escalation of unenforced illegal fishing activity which is rampant in the bay," said Mr Sivasothi.
He said he and other individuals and organisations have raised the issue of illegal fishing in waterways and nature reserves and asked for better enforcement and management, "but this has gone unheeded".
Otter watcher Jeffery Teo, who is part of the Otter Working Group, told ST that the otter watching community appeals to PUB for a "justified and fair approach in addressing this issue".
"We strongly urge PUB to enforce immediate action in encouraging responsible fishing among the public. Several incidents of otters have been reported in recent years," he said. "However, preventive measures to eradicate such issues are missing. It is absolutely distressing that in this recent illegal trapping incident, a healthy otter, from the well-loved Bishan family, had been sacrificed."
Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive officer of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), told ST that Acres comes across illegal fishing, netting and traps being left behind "quite often".
"Our waterways are not only a source of fresh water for ourselves but are also home to a wide variety of fauna including otters and other animals like monitor lizards , turtles and birds," he said.
"It is imperative that the relevant agencies look into better deterrence against such illegal activities. Such activities have been going on for a long time and it is time we protect our waterways and fauna from such illegal activities."
PUB in its statement reminded the public that it is an offence to trap any animal or injure fauna in any reservoir. Those caught can be fined up to $3,000.
If you spot any illegal acts at the reservoirs, call the PUB hotline on 1800-2255-782 (1800-CALL-PUB).
When reporting, it would help to provide the date, time and location, along with photos or videos.