Man climbs over railing to fish illegally with net in Rochor Canal, PUB investigating

A man was called out for his dangerous act of climbing over a railing to illegally cast a fishing net in Rochor Canal on Saturday.

SINGAPORE - A man was photographed making a precarious climb over a railing to cast a fishing net into Rochor Canal illegally, and water agency PUB said it is investigating the incident, reminding the public that it is dangerous to climb into canals.

The incident occurred at about 6pm on Saturday (June 17) along the stretch near Hotel Vagabond, Shin Min Daily News reported on Monday (June 19).

Some people have said illegal fishing is common in the area.

An eyewitness who gave his name only as Mr Hong, a 46-year-old engineer who lives nearby, told Shin Min that he was jogging when he saw the incident.

The man climbed over the railing, balancing on a ledge, and threw a fish net into the water. Mr Hong said it was extremely dangerous and a bad example for any children who may see him doing so.

A PUB spokesman told The Straits Times that it is investigating the incident. She said that members of the public are not allowed to enter canals at all times, as heavy rainfall causes sudden and rapid water flow that can pose a serious danger.

Fishing is allowed along Rochor Canal but only at the five designated decks, and nets are not allowed. The area was opened up for fishing under a one-year trial which began on Sept 15 last year.

Railings and warning signs are installed along deep drains and canals to prevent people from entering the canal. PUB said it will take action against those who enter the waterways without prior approval and those caught 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 Monday that Rochor Canal is a hotspot for illegal fishing.

The 42-year-old manager, who has been a zone captain for five years and oversees the north-west parts of Singapore, said there are rules against fishing in the waterway, but enforcement "is very lax" and people catch fish with nets, rods and anything they can think of.

Mr Lee, who used to be an angler himself, said: "When you angle, you basically want to catch something, for food or for fun. The whole idea is there are regulations and if it's properly enforced there will be a management plan in place. When I fish in Australia, it's self-policing. There, you have to have a licence."

Speaking about the lack of enforcement against illegal fishing here, Mr Lee said: "If the enforcement is not strong, obviously people will just think they can do anything they want, at the most they will get a warning."

On some of the illegal acts, Mr Lee said he has seen nets being drawn across the mouth of a canal, and fishing traps deployed as well.

Just last week, an otter was found dead in a fishing cage along the Marina Promenade. Its death created an outcry online, with many asking for more enforcement to be carried out against those who fish illegally.

In response to The Straits Times' queries, PUB said an average of about 400 people have been caught for illegal fishing annually over the past three years.

PUB appealed to the public to call 1800-CALL-PUB (1800-2255-782) if they have more information on this case or if they spot any suspicious activities at the waterways.

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