By CAROL LI
DUE to their heavy weight and small mouths, turtles tend to suffer more unnecessary hurt when being angled, according to Mr Cheng Kam-yuen, Superintendent of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) .
“The Waterworks Regulations should state clearly what other sea-animals, for example, turtles, are prohibited to be caught and fished by anglers in reservoirs,” said Mr Cheng.
The Waterworks Regulations, implemented by the Water Supplies Department (WSD), restrict the species, sizes and quantities of fishes that anglers could fish in reservoir areas. However, Mr Cheng claimed that the regulations were too vague.
David, who is fishing turtles in reservoirs, said, a “hot-wave” of fishing turtles sparked off recently since it had more satisfaction and achievement.
David said that he would set them free after fishing them. But some people would take them as pets and some would even sell them to aquariums.
“I don’t know it is an offence to fish turtles in reservoir areas because WSD doesn’t state this condition on the fishing licence,” David said.
“It is very difficult and impossible to write down all the sea-animals which are prohibited to be caught and fished by anglers in the reservoirs, otherwise, there will be a long and everlasting regulations,” said Mr Tse Min-tat, Senior Engineer and Customer Relations Officer of the WSD.
Thus, the Waterworks Regulations only state certain sizes and species of fishes that are permitted to be caught by anglers, but it has not stated what other sea-animals, such as turtles, are forbidden to catch.
“Catching turtles will be liable to prosecution and the maximum fine is $4,000,” he said.
Besides, Mr Cheng suggested that the WSD should increase the manpower inspecting reservoir areas and enforce he regulations.
“It is useless to amend the regulations if no one enforce them,” he said.
Mr Liu Wai-yan had been fishing in reservoirs over 70 times but only been checked for a fishing licence once. “In some small, secluded reservoirs, I saw people using nets and even explosive or toxic substances to catch and destroy fishes,” he said.
Mr Chang Yung-chuan, who has 26 years experience of fishing in reservoirs, said most people fishing without licenses were youngsters.
“I have seen waterworks staff checking anglers’ fishing licence but they only checked suspicious people and did not patrol regularly,” said Mr Chang.
“WSD and police officers patrol the reservoirs regularly but it is difficult for them to check all parts of the reservoir areas,” Mr Tse explained.
Besides, Mr Tse said that the job of waterworks staff was not only to check fishing licences and to patrol reservoir areas, but also had to prevent pollution, check waterworks facilities and arrest offenders who violated the Regulations.