Underwater life around the offshore Sisters’ Islands will now be better protected, after Parliament passed laws to designate the area as a public park.
This new law states that it will be an offence to fish, collect corals or moor boats within the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park without the approval of the National Parks Board (NParks). Currently, the terrestrial areas of the islands are already protected under the law, and the latest change makes clear that the marine and foreshore areas, too, are to be safeguarded. Also, it is an offence for people to release animals into water bodies outside nature reserves, to prevent the introduction of non-native species, which can upset the balance of the natural ecosystem and harm native species
Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said that protecting the reefs at the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is crucial to our coral conservation efforts, and that NParks will make new rules specific to marine parks in due course, such as imposing restrictions on diving, and the movement of vessels. This will be done in consultation with the marine conservation community and other stakeholders, such as boat operators.
Mr Lee also said his ministry would work with nature groups and use science and technology to determine if other areas should be designated as marine parks. He added that the Sisters’ Islands site was chosen based on the richness of species and habitats there, as well as its importance as a source of coral larvae. Scientists had found that the reefs there are the “mother reef” of sorts, and the waters around them are the likely source of Singapore’s coral diversity.
Another amendment to the law allows NParks officers to have the power to enter private premises to check on the condition of trees and plants if there are public safety concerns. The officers can also issue notices requiring private property owners to carry out pruning or engage an arborist to conduct detailed inspections, among other thing