• Some young anglers in Singapore are trying to spread the message of sustainable fishing
  • They are doing so in a four-hour workshop at Bedok Jetty in December
  • SGFishingRigz, a fishing equipment store started by teenagers, are in the midst of developing environmentally friendly fishing products
  • They will be working with 17-year-old Ryan Chin, the brainchild of the workshop
  • Ryan said it is easier to teach new anglers sustainable fishing practices

SINGAPORE — In a minute-long clip on social media platform TikTok, a presenter explains why it is okay to catch and keep hybrid groupers caught in Singapore waters.

These groupers are an invasive species that eat the food of native species in the ecosystem, says the 16-year-old presenter who is from the United World College of Southeast Asia international school.

The presenter, Benjamin Brighton, along with other teenage youth in Singapore are on a mission to transform fishing practices in Singapore — from one that depletes the Republic’s waterways of fish, to one that ensures that water bodies here remain teeming with marine life.

For Benjamin and his other teenage friends who run fishing equipment store SGFishingRigz, social media is just one of several ways they are spreading the sustainability message for a hobby that has become increasingly popular among young Singaporeans during the pandemic.

The team, which is made up of six students aged between 16 and 19, are also developing environmentally friendly fishing equipment.

In addition, they will join forces with another young fishing enthusiast, Ryan Chin, on a series of workshops this December to teach budding anglers how to fish sustainably.

Speaking to TODAY last week, Haikkel Firdhaus, one of the co-founders of SGFishingRigz, said that the importance of sustainable fishing practices hit him the day after the circuit breaker was lifted in June last year.

The 19-year-old had headed down to his fishing haunt at Bedok Jetty to witness a sight he had never encountered.

The jetty had become populated with fish as people remained home during the restrictions.

But what upset Haikkel, a second-year student at Temasek Polytechnic, was that no one bothered to release juvenile fish back in the sea after reeling them in.

The release of juvenile fish, which are not sexually matured yet, back into the sea to ensure that they are able to grow, reproduce and repopulate the waters is part of sustainable fishing practices.

Determined that their business should not promote such practices, the SGFishingRigz team then came up with the idea to sell “catch-and-release” rigs.

These rigs use a circle hook that attaches itself to the corner of the fish’s mouth so that it is easier to release the fish.

The more traditional J-hook takes longer to remove from a fish’s mouth, reducing its survival rate before it is released into the water, explained Haikkel.

The team is also in the midst of developing fishing sinkers that use bismuth, a metal alloy, in place of the more toxic and environmentally harmful lead. They are being funded by Temasek Polytechnic’s Launchpad incubation programme for new entrepreneurs.

The sinkers, which are used to lower the fish bait in the water, will be trialled during the FishX workshops, available over several dates in December.

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