06 November 2009

Guitar shark caught off Changi

A 2.75m-long, 100-kg guitar shark was cut up and sold to Tekong Seafood Restaurant in Changi Village for $600.Mr Tan Seck Suah said he caught the shark in the waters near Changi Naval Base.

AVA's response:
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said that guitarfish is currently not listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora so there’s no law against catching or selling it.

Fortunately, our scientists provide more information and advice that hopefully helps avoid an unhappy end to special fishes found on our shores.

The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species lists six species from the Rhynchobatus genus as vulnerable or endangered, which means they face a high or very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Because the Rhynchobatus species is under threat, Dr Tan Heok Hui, a lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and NUS fish biologist Jeffrey Kwik encourage people to release such fish if they catch them.

Mr Kwik said: “It’s a shame not to release such large fish back into the ocean because usually by the time such fish reach this size, it’s at a stage where it’s able to reproduce and contribute to the breeding population.”

Dr Tan suggested that recreational anglers take a picture with their mobile phones if they catch something interesting, before letting it go.

He said: “Most of these bottom dwelling shark-rays are data deficient, meaning there is insufficient information about them. Yet they are caught in the tonnes every year for their meat and fins.

“So they could be even more critically endangered than what is currently stated by IUCN.”

Another reason not to eat such large fish is the possibility of high levels of mercury.

Dr Tan said: “With large predators, they do tend to accumulate pollutants such as heavy metals.”

Full articles on the wildsingapore news blog.

Other encounters with our sharks coming to a sad end are the black tipped reef sharks at Pulau Hantu shared on the Hantu Blog.

The Straits Times also carried a story about big fishes and large marine creatures caught in our waters: Whopper of a catch Shuli Sudderuddin, Straits Times 15 Nov 09;

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