ECP angler catches & releases critically-endangered shovelnose ray, stays behind to ensure it doesn't wash ashore

Good job.

Fiona Tan | July 06, 2023, 03:22 PM

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The Internet is commending an angler for releasing a critically endangered shovelnose ray back into the sea at East Coast Park.

Big catch

A man, who goes by Mohd Isa on TikTok, uploaded a video of the fishing incident on the social media platform.

He wrote in the caption that he was at his "hunting ground" at East Coast Park.

A man in the video was reeling in what appeared to be a big catch.

According to the caption, the man in the video was named Bai.

Shovelnose ray

Bai used his whole body to pull his catch in from where he stood some distance from the shoreline, presumably to gain some ground on what was on the other end of the fishing line.

This constant effort continued until the four-minute mark in the video, when the catch neared the shoreline, and it became clear that it was a shovelnose ray.

Another man, presumably another angler, stood waiting in the waters with an apparatus in hand to haul the shovelnose ray out of the water.

Once it was on the shore, Bai approached to admire his catch before the video cuts off.

Released it back into the water

In the next part of the video, Bai led the shovelnose ray out into the ocean.

At the behest of the person filming the incident, a visibly ecstatic Bai briefly held the shovelnose ray up for one last photo opportunity before releasing it.

The shovelnose ray did not swim off immediately leading the cameraman to comment that it was tired in Malay.

Bai held onto the shovelnose ray briefly before pushing it into the water.

@mohdisasufat15 Syukur Alhamdulilah early morning hit first light at our hunting grd . Bai again with his 3rd Shovel Nose Shark aka Kemejan within one month. Bait Mempinang from Gary Sim Tackle . Catch And Release to fight another day after quick photo taken . 🐟🐠🦈🎣🇯🇵🇿🇦#fishing #surffishing ♬ Powerful songs like action movie music - Tansa

Commended for catching and releasing

The TikTok video has gone viral, garnering over 200,000 views since it was uploaded on Jul. 2, 2023.

The comments were mostly positive and in praise of Bai for releasing the shovelnose ray back into the water.

According to Isa's caption, the TikTok video was cut off to take some photos.

He said the photo-taking session was quick and did not take long before the shovelnose ray was promptly released into the ocean.

A handful of commenters suggested that the shovelnose ray was dead by the time it went back into the water.

Isa responded to some of them, saying that the shovelnose ray was "a bit tired" but was still alive during the release process.

He added that he and his crew stayed behind for one to two hours in case the shovelnose ray washed up onto the shore.

Image screenshot from TikTok.

Image screenshot from TikTok.

Sport fishing

While Isa referred to the shovelnose ray as a shark several times, he said this was neither Bai nor his first time catching a one.

He said in the caption that this was Bai's third time in a month.

Isa also told a commenter he had caught four shovelnose rays, all of which were released after catching.

True enough, Bai was featured in another one of Isa's videos, where he and another angler could be seen reeling in a shovelnose ray each.

@mohdisasufat15 Kemejan 2 hit back to back . #fishing #surffishing ♬ Lagi Syantik(改版)

When asked why he chose to catch and release, instead of consuming his catch, Isa said he fishes for sport.

Another TikTok creator offered to buy off any shovelnose rays that Isa might come across in future.

Despite the enticingly thick stack of cash in the creator's profile picture, Isa declined, saying that he only practises catch-and-release.

Image screenshot from TikTok.

Image screenshot from TikTok.

Why is catch-and-release important?

Under the sustainable fishing group Marine Stewards' guidelines, shovelnose rays are listed under the no-take category and should be released.

Anglers can refer to Marine Stewards' guidelines to determine which fish can be kept or should be released.

Image screenshot from Marine Stewards website.

According to the National Parks Board (NParks), catch-and-release should apply to endangered species, juvenile fishes and brooding animals. In addition, fish that are caught, but will not be eaten, should also be released.

Some fishes such as invasive species can be captured. For instance, hybrid groupers are listed under the "all take" category as they are an invasive species. Invasive species are non-native species that cause harm to the local ecosystem.

About shovelnose rays

Shovelnose rays (Rhynochobatus australiae), also known as the bottlenose wedgefish, are named after their distinctive broad and pointed snout.

They are native to various parts of Southeast Asia, including Singapore.

As bottom dwellers, shovelnose rays live and feed on the bottom of their coastal and inshore habitats.

Shovelnose rays have been classified as "Critically Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since Aug. 28, 2019. They are threatened by commercial fishing and harvesting.

However, they are not protected by the Wildlife Act, which only lists four types of fish as protected species.

According to the Parks and Trees Act, capturing shovelnose rays is illegal in nature reserves and national parks managed by NParks.

Catch and release, please

Top image screenshot from @mohdisasufat15/TikTok