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Leaving More Than Just Footprints

Author: Peace


Before we begin, everyone should be aware that fishing in non-designated fishing grounds in our catchment area is against the law. This article has no intention to encourage illegal activities. However, the writer does not ignore the factual circumstance of litter problem in the catchment / remote areas and the difficulties in seeking a practically solution. As such, the article aims to bring awareness of this litter problem and seeks cooperation and understanding from its visitors.



Our catchment area serves not only as a source of drinking water but also as a nature reserve to protect the natural habitat around it. The main catchment areas are located in centre and west of Singapore. The central catchment area consists of Upper/Lower Seletar, Upper/Lower Pierce and Macritchie Reservoir. Much of the fringes of the reservoir are also marked as nature reserves to preserve the forest and the wildlife within. The other major catchment area is on the west is marked as protected area and used by the army for training. These reservoirs include Murai, Poyan, Sarimbun and Tengeh. These reservoirs are off limits to the public.


Visitors to the catchment area

Despite the catchment area being pretty much inaccessible, there are still visitors who go there often enough to prevent the trails from being covered up by the fast growing vegetation. Most of these people are trekkers, cyclists, anglers, photographers, army soldiers, fruit pickers and possibly poachers. So we come to the catchment area, each with different purpose yet with the similar habit - littering.

We can't tell for sure which group of people or who littered most, but on thing for sure, we anglers are one of them. Many of us believe that fishing in undesignated fishing grounds in the catchment area is 'okay' so long we use artificial baits. But the truth lies more than just not using live baits that may pollute the water. Trash we leave behind are just as bad using live baits.


'Treasures' along trails in the catchment area.

If you have a chance to visit the remote parts of our catchment area, you'll find that the following 'treasures' are not hard to come by. And if you visit the same place again another day, you'll find that these 'treasures' are still where you last saw them. As you can imagine, these 'treasures' can start piling up as the days go by.

The shelter is probably erected to seek shelter during rain but was not dismantled after use. An umbrella is even left hanging on the branches to collect water.
Plastic bad shelter Umbrella


Why should we be particularly concern about litter in the catchment area?

Because there will be no one there to clear them up! Unlike many public fishing grounds and designated fishing areas in reservoirs where there are cleaners and sweepers to clear up the trash, many parts of the catchment areas can be difficult to access. Moreover, trash left on the forest floor will soon be covered by leaf litter, so even if there are people to clear the trash they would have trouble finding them. Pollution is still pollution even if you don't see them. Plastic bags, bottles, cans and fishing lines are non-biodegradable items that can take many, many years to break down. If such pollution is to get into the water in the catchment area, it will degrade the water quality.

Typical trash found along the trails include plastic bags, cigarette boxes, drink cans, bottles, newspapers, etc
Cigarette box and newspapers Guinness Can

For those anglers who wish for fishing rules in reservoirs to be less stringent, take the litter problem into account first. We spoke of wanting more areas to be opened up for fishing but we're not we're doing a good job in convincing authorities that we can maintain the well-being of the catchment area. Many of us would like to have fishing licensing scheme implemented like those in foreign countries such that we can fish beyond the normal fishing grounds we are currently allowed. Such policies would require self discipline such as not to litter in the reservoir and comply with the rules being laid.

More trash deposited along trails in the catchment area.
Trashbag More Trashbags

Even ropes and knives can be found lying on the forest floor, a safety hazard.
Knife Ropes


>> next: Are we anglers really responsible for it?


Created: 30 March, 2006 :: Updated: 14 February, 2007