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Lifelisting: A Lifelong Learning Legacy

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

By Ryan Chin

Queenfish. Groupers. Trevallies. These are some words bound to make any Singaporean angler drool before being transported into the reverie of their next fishing trip. Even for individuals just starting their fishing journey, these trophies hold firm as their dream catches. However, there is also another lesser-known pursuit of fishing, especially anonymous in Singapore. It's called lifelisting.

Above: Singapore boasts marine biodiversity that is often overlooked, even by some anglers

What is Lifelisting?

For those acquainted with Pokémon, the principles behind lifelisting will sound familiar. As a lifelister, you "gotta catch em' all". While I am not a fan of the game, I do appreciate this concept when applied to our interactions with the environment through fishing. The objective of a lifelister is to document as many species of fish as possible. This exposes the angler to different techniques to "unlock" new and rare species. As a result, lifelisting allows you to come across types of fish that you wouldn't encounter otherwise and expands your knowledge of the various players that constitute our marine ecosystem.

Another feature of lifelisting is the flexibility of rules. Individuals are free to come up with their own regulations in their pursuit of new species. Here are some common rules widely accepted in the community:

  • The fish documented must be caught on hook and line

  • The fish must be hooked in the mouth

  • The fish should be clearly documented by a photo displaying the species' unique characteristics

Above: An Orbiculate Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia orbicularis) is just one example of the weird and wonderful species that a lifelister can encounter, and cannot be targeted by gamefishing!

Finally, the defining hallmark of a lifelister is his dedication to protecting the environment. Being exposed to the incredible diversity of fish that our waters have to offer naturally inculcates a deep sense of appreciation for the environment in most lifelisters. Therefore, members of the community pride themselves in keeping the fishing area clean, practicing sustainable fishing, and catch and release.

What does Lifelisting have to do with Marine Stewards?

Lifelisting's potential to promote marine conservation is encapsulated by a slogan of Marine Stewards - "You can't love what you don't know". Only through spending time out on the water, pursuing, documenting, and learning about new species of fish can we gain knowledge of the aquatic world that Marine Stewards strives to safeguard! As mentioned earlier, lifelisting already advocates many sustainable fishing practices in line with the Marine Stewards' vision. Area cleaning is a habit encouraged among members of Marine Stewards, while selective harvesting and releasing juveniles is what Marine Stewards promotes through our fish ID cards!