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Video of angler releasing endangered shovelnose ray at Bedok jetty sparks debate about sport fishing

Video of angler releasing endangered shovelnose ray at Bedok jetty sparks debate about sport fishing
PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

A recreational angler and his friends believed they were doing the right thing when they released their rare and endangered catch back into the sea at Bedok jetty. 

However, the incident has recently sparked debate among netizens over sport fishing – and if it is an appropriate pastime to begin with. 

In a Facebook post on June 22, the angler shared a video of him releasing the sea creature, an endangered Shovelnose ray. The caption wrote, "Byebye! Once again thanks for putting up an awesome fight!"

The video showed him and a fellow angler lifting the animal off the ground where blood can be seen. Next, the angler carries and drops it over a railing and into the sea, where it can be seen swimming away. The anglers can be heard cheering, "catch and release!"

His post and video have since garnered almost 700 likes and over 100 comments, which were mostly positive. But, when it was re-shared on Nature Society (Singapore), a Facebook page, on July 9 netizens began to weigh in. 

The catch, identified as a shovelnose ray and also known as a white-spotted wedgefish, is considered a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Shark and ray expert, Dr Neil Hutchinson from James Cook University Singapore told media that its population has declined by 95 per cent over the past 20 years, largely due to overfishing and habitat loss. 

Some netizens pitied the animal – and the ordeal it went through – and argued that it is best to not catch the creature at all. 

Conversely, other commenters praised the the anglers' decision to catch-and-release and argued that they did nothing wrong. 

In a similar incident in May when an angler hauled an eagle ray, curator Kelvin Lim said leisure anglers often cannot tell if they have caught an endangered fish and advises that they should release such endangered fish if they are not seriously injured.

"Animals do get injured when they are hooked, usually at the mouth ... practitioners of catch and release believe that they are able to heal quickly," the curator of vertebrate collections at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum said. 

ALSO READ: 'Let it go': Video of man reeling in endangered eagle ray at East Coast Park sparks concern

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