Living City: Last fishermen on Singapore’s east coast

Fisherman Lim Ah Ping smiles for the camera with his catch of the day after four hours out at sea along East Coast Park. As he only catches flower crabs, the 65-year-old would cast nets at selected spots one day before collecting them in the morning
Fisherman Lim Ah Ping smiles for the camera with his catch of the day after four hours out at sea along East Coast Park. As he only catches flower crabs, the 65-year-old would cast nets at selected spots one day before collecting them in the morning the next day. ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Fisherman Lim Ah Ping securing a flower crab with a rubber band.
Fisherman Lim Ah Ping securing a flower crab with a rubber band. ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Fisherman Cheong Teck Wah shows a grouper fish proudly to the camera. The 48-year-old laments the reduce in catch in recent years. He said that land reclamation over the years, coupled with tankers by the coast, have chased fish away from the sea alo
Fisherman Cheong Teck Wah shows a grouper fish proudly to the camera. The 48-year-old laments the reduce in catch in recent years. He said that land reclamation over the years, coupled with tankers by the coast, have chased fish away from the sea along East Coast Park. ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
People who come by to buy fresh fish are long-time customers who first chanced upon the fishermen when they came to East Coast Park to exercise. Some customers have been buying fish there for over 10 years.
People who come by to buy fresh fish are long-time customers who first chanced upon the fishermen when they came to East Coast Park to exercise. Some customers have been buying fish there for over 10 years.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Fisherman Lim Ah Ping usually arrives at East Coast Park by five in the morning to prepare his boat. Once dawn breaks, he sets off immediately. He does this as the early morning sun is less intense.
Fisherman Lim Ah Ping usually arrives at East Coast Park by five in the morning to prepare his boat. Once dawn breaks, he sets off immediately. He does this as the early morning sun is less intense.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
The boat storage facility on the beach near car park B1 is the last of its kind. Up to 2007, there were four such storage areas along East Coast Park. The storage facilities were designed in the 1970s for fishermen by the east coast who had been affe
The boat storage facility on the beach near car park B1 is the last of its kind. Up to 2007, there were four such storage areas along East Coast Park. The storage facilities were designed in the 1970s for fishermen by the east coast who had been affected by resettlement due to land reclamation. ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO

SINGAPORE - Jurong and Senoko are well-known ports of call for Singapore's fish trade.

But East Coast Park, too, is home to a small wharf that caters to customers with a taste for fresh fish.

Located along the beach near carpark B1, it is the park's last boat storage facility.

From the 1970s till 2007, the National Parks Board (NParks) offered four such facilities at subsidised rates to fishermen who had been affected by resettlement.

Today, the only one remaining - about the size of half a football field - houses 35 NParks-registered boats owned by fishermen. Only boat owners who fish for a living may apply to use the facility. Their vessels must also have a valid licence issued by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore or Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

"Most of the time, customers come here and collect their orders at the beach," said Mr Lim Ah Ping, 65, a semi-retired fisherman.

Most customers are regulars who have bought fish from them for many years.

Fellow fisherman Kee Seck Heng, 56, said: "My customers first chanced upon this place when they came to East Coast Park to exercise."

In this episode of Living City, The Straits Times takes you to the last community of fishermen at Singapore's east coast.