Monday, April 7, 2008

The Ethical Fisherman - where are you?

Pulau Huntu, 6 April 2008
Whatever happened to the Ethical Fisherman? Extinct?

Time and again, we find driftnets lost or abandoned at sea and lodged in the seabed as permanent death traps for animals. Why? Why??

I would believe this to be true: the Ethical Fisherman would keep an unfailing and unbroken watch over his net as soon as it has been cast. Never would he leave it in the sea unsupervised for any length of time. He would retrieve it as soon as he leaves the fishing area. This is the unwritten code of honour of the Ethical Fisherman. But where is he today?

If I have any before, I would have certainly lost all faith in finding him in our local driftnet-user-community now, seeing what I saw at Hantu last Sunday: another driftnet, another rescue, and another anguishing period to wait before mastering enough manpower to unearth it on another day. In the meantime, I know for sure that many more unwary animals will get entangled and drown or starve to death as each day passes. If I cannot find help soon, 19th April will be the nearest date I can reconcile myself for a return to remove the net personally. That is almost two weeks from now. Sigh...

[photo above: one of two mosaic crabs rescued]

One day, someone - a human - will be drowned by an abandoned driftnet. Mark my words.

Do we have to wait for such a tragedy to happen before taking a more serious approach to licensing driftnets as control items or banning it altogether in Singapore? After all, we banned chewing-gum, didn't we?

Or can the local fishing community in Singapore take it in its own stride to self-regulate?

Is there an Ethical Fisherman somewhere in our midst who can stand up and stand tall to institutionalize a Fishermen's Chapter in Singapore and make us all proud of having a local fishing community which is both professional and responsible?

Please... please stand up and be counted, if you can. It is not impossible for nature lovers and fishermen to work together to clean up this mess. At the very least, this is my hope.

[photo above: curvy black line indicates location of abandoned driftnet in central lagoon]


Ria Tan said...

How distressing to hear of this Joe. But thanks for sharing.

I do know of some ethical fishermen and some of them are trying to reform the sport.

Let's hope they heed your call to do more.

Vyna said...

Ah, you DO have hope. :)
By the way, that was an amazing insight on the turtle - you are absolutely on the ball!
Also, I wanted to tell you that I was very touched by your first message to me on my blog. Have a great weekend!

Joe Lai said...

Thanks Vyna,

thanks for adding a baby turtle alongside mine so spontaneously and inadvertently put a seed of contemplation into my own wonderings. It is a moment in time no tide will ever wash away. It lives forever. I find no words good enough in thanking you for being part of my journey here in Cyrene, but perhaps this... Vyna, thanks for being you. : )