27 April 2018

Changi Boardwalk: a death trap for wildlife?

Yesterday, two otters were found dead near the Changi boardwalk near Changi Sailing Club. According to media reports, one of the otters was found along the beach (left), while the other was found in a metal trap used to catch crabs and fish (right).
I have seen such huge fish traps along Changi Boardwalk on almost every survey throughout the years. There are other impacts from line fishing and net fishing too.

Changi Boardwalk is a magnet for fishermen. On a typical weekend when the tide is right, segments of the boardwalk over the water is completely taken over by fishermen who lay fishing rods, traps and lines in dense numbers. I shared more about how poorly managed boardwalks can do more harm than good in this old blog post. This is what I saw on 10 Jul 2016. This is not very different from what I saw in 2009 in the same place.
Yellow arrows point to lines in the water attached to traps.
These lines are placed on both sides of the boardwalk.
These lines snag and kill all kinds of marine life and not just the targeted fish and crabs. These fishermen do not take everything they catch, often leaving unwanted animals on the boardwalk to die. I have seen seahorses killed this way.

The news of the otters' deaths was first posted on OtterWatch on 26 Apr 2018.

Besides killing large animals, Large traps also squash and damage other marine life, reducing the biodiversity beneath the boardwalk.
Fish trap laid on Changi underwater garden

I have seen such huge fish traps along Changi Boardwalk on almost every survey throughout the years. Here's some photos...

May 2017: Long trap
Fish traps laid at Changi Coastal Boardwalk

May 2017: Trap
Fish traps laid at Changi Coastal Boardwalk

Jul 2015: Trap
Fish trap at Changi

Jun 2015: Trap
Fish trap at Changi

Jun 2014: Trap
Fish trap

Jun 2014: Trap
Fish trap

July 2013: Trap
Fish trap at Changi

Aug 2012: Trap
Fish trap on Changi rocky shore

Dec 2010: Trap
Abandoned fish trap

Jul 2010: Trap
Fish trap on Changi

Fishing lines kill more than fish

Even in a single fishing line can entangle immobile animals.
Abandoned fishing line entangled on a sponge
Victims include birds, which die a slow and cruel death as they get entangled in fishing lines abandoned by fishermen.
Little Heron killed by a fishing line
from the Bird Ecology Study Group blog.
Barn owl entangled in a fishing line
from the Bird Ecology Study Group blog.
Earlier this month, a dolphin was entangled in a fishing line at Bedok Jetty on 7 Apr 2018.
From media articles about the incident.
Fortunately, a few days later on 10 Apr 2018, the dolphin was released from its entanglements!


Long large fishing nets

Fishermen also deploy long large nets from the Changi Boardwalk. During a survey on Aug 2016. I saw what looks like a fishing net about to be laid from the boardwalk with a long pole. There were also about 20 fishing rods tied to the boardwalk railings and large styrofoam boxes ready for the catch. The tide was super low and it was a weekday. I was surprised as I thought this sort of intensive fishing only happened at high tide and on weekends.
Fish net on Changi Boardwalk
Such nets are often found abandoned under the boardwalks, like this scene in May 2017. Such nets continue to kill until they are removed.
Abandoned nets at Changi Coastal Boardwalk
While coastal boardwalks can allow ordinary people to visit a shore without trampling it, there are also many unintended harmful long-term consequences that can occur. These can be avoided by holistic planning for ecologically sensitive construction and maintenance, and good management of boardwalk usage.


Related links
Coastal boardwalks can do more harm than good



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