Otters spotted exploring illegal fishing cage at Marina Reservoir; PUB appeals for witnesses

Otters were seen exploring a fish trapping cage illegally deployed at Marina Reservoir on Jan 2, 2018.
Otters were seen exploring a fish trapping cage illegally deployed at Marina Reservoir on Jan 2, 2018.PHOTO: OTTERWATCH

SINGAPORE - An illegal fish-trapping cage was found in the Marina Reservoir on Tuesday (Jan 2) by an otter watcher who spotted the animals exploring the device, prompting water agency PUB to step in and call for witnesses.

The otter watcher spotted the otters climbing on a structure near the Indoor Stadium, opposite Tanjong Rhu, and realised it was an animal-trapping cage.

She alerted the PUB, which removed the cage from the Marina Reservoir with the help of otter community group OtterWatch.

PUB said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that no animals were trapped.

It is illegal to use such trapping cages in any reservoirs or waterways, even in areas where fishing is allowed.

Additionally, those caught trapping any animal or doing any act which injures fauna in any reservoir may be fined up to $3,000.

Mr Adriane Lee, a volunteer zone captain with International Coastal Cleanup Singapore which cleans up Singapore's coastlines and waterways, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that the trap was a funnel trap used to trap fish.

"The idea is for fish to enter in one direction and they can't get out as they don't know how to find their way out," said the 43-year-old manager. "From my understanding, all forms of trapping such as this and nets are not allowed in nature reserves and waterways."

Mr Lee, who has been a zone captain for six years and oversees the north-west parts of Singapore, said trapped fish can attract larger predators such as otters and birds that can get trapped.

"For example, an otter can get its head stuck inside the hole," he said. "If the trap is lost or abandoned, for example if the owner forgot where he laid the trap or if water currents shift it, it is even worse as it will be in the water trapping indefinitely."

He added that the trap is made of nylon and will not degrade naturally in the water, and so will remain there for a long time, falling apart over a long period of time only when abrasion against the water bed cuts the cords.

Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive officer at Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), told ST that Acres often responds to cases where animals become entangled or get caught in such cages, traps or fishing lines.

"We urge the public to be vigilant when walking along park connectors and waterways to inform the authorities if they sight such traps, fishing lines  or people fishing in prohibited areas," he said. "They can also help remove the traps or abandoned fishing lines if possible. These traps can be of great harm to our fauna." 

Acres receives about two calls per month on animals that are entangled or caught in cages, traps or fishing lines.


In June last year, a dead otter was found in a cage along the Marina Promenade and a man was caught setting traps in the area that same day.

PUB urged the public to call its hotline on 1800-CALL-PUB (1800-2255-782) if they have information on the new case, or if they have spotted any suspicious activities at the reservoir.

When reporting, it would be helpful to furnish the date, time and location, along with any photos and videos.