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Fishing affecting Jhanjimukh wetlands

By Sivasish Thakur

GUWAHATI, March 14 � Large-scale commercial fishing in wetland including those declared as Important Bird Areas (IBAs), is posing a threat to long-term survival prospects of many of the State�s wetlands.

A case in point is the Missamari beel and adjoining wetlands at Jhanjimukh � a riverine area at the confluence of the Jhanji river in Jorhat district comprising a number of large and small beels (wetlands) and swamps. Missamari happens to be the largest of these beels with an area of around 780 hectares.

Home to a wide variety of migratory birds which arrive in their thousands during the winter, the Missamari wetland complex plays host to a very large congregations of bar-headed and grey-lag goose from November till January-February. Around 228 avian species have been recorded in the area � a very high number considering its small size � and it was categorized as an IBA by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

�Sustainable fishing by locals is not a very serious problem but the Missamari beel is leased for commercial fishing and this leads to large-scale fishing to meet commercial needs. This has greatly damaged the integrity of the wetlands and hampered the breeding of several species of birds,� Asif Hazarika of BNHS which has prioritized the area for conservation as a community conservation area, said.

Gradual reclamation of the fringe areas of the beels for seasonal cultivation as well as fish farming is also steadily reducing the area of the wetlands.

BNHS, together with its local partner Ketekee, is working out a strategy to involve the local populace in the conservation efforts for Missamari.

�The local people are concerned about conserving the area and ensuring its long-term conservation. The area faces several major problems but through the joint efforts of BNHS and Ketekee, the risks and threats have been substantially reduced,� Hazarika said.

BNHS and Ketekee have submitted a proposal to the Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat to develop the wetland complex as a community conservation area �We have received a positive response from the administration,� Hazarika said. Hazarika is of the view that the Missamari wetland complex, if properly conserved and managed, would be one of the finest bird areas in upper Assam.

There are six major beels in the Missamari complex, i.e. Missamari, Chengamari, Laojan, Digholi, Kaoimari and Rupohitoli. This area lies within the Teok revenue circle.

Among the important bird species in the area is the spot-billed or grey pelican which is found considerable numbers in the wetlands, particularly in Missamari beels.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)

Fishing affecting Jhanjimukh wetlands

GUWAHATI, March 14 � Large-scale commercial fishing in wetland including those declared as Important Bird Areas (IBAs), is posing a threat to long-term survival prospects of many of the State�s wetlands.

A case in point is the Missamari beel and adjoining wetlands at Jhanjimukh � a riverine area at the confluence of the Jhanji river in Jorhat district comprising a number of large and small beels (wetlands) and swamps. Missamari happens to be the largest of these beels with an area of around 780 hectares.

Home to a wide variety of migratory birds which arrive in their thousands during the winter, the Missamari wetland complex plays host to a very large congregations of bar-headed and grey-lag goose from November till January-February. Around 228 avian species have been recorded in the area � a very high number considering its small size � and it was categorized as an IBA by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

�Sustainable fishing by locals is not a very serious problem but the Missamari beel is leased for commercial fishing and this leads to large-scale fishing to meet commercial needs. This has greatly damaged the integrity of the wetlands and hampered the breeding of several species of birds,� Asif Hazarika of BNHS which has prioritized the area for conservation as a community conservation area, said.

Gradual reclamation of the fringe areas of the beels for seasonal cultivation as well as fish farming is also steadily reducing the area of the wetlands.

BNHS, together with its local partner Ketekee, is working out a strategy to involve the local populace in the conservation efforts for Missamari.

�The local people are concerned about conserving the area and ensuring its long-term conservation. The area faces several major problems but through the joint efforts of BNHS and Ketekee, the risks and threats have been substantially reduced,� Hazarika said.

BNHS and Ketekee have submitted a proposal to the Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat to develop the wetland complex as a community conservation area �We have received a positive response from the administration,� Hazarika said. Hazarika is of the view that the Missamari wetland complex, if properly conserved and managed, would be one of the finest bird areas in upper Assam.

There are six major beels in the Missamari complex, i.e. Missamari, Chengamari, Laojan, Digholi, Kaoimari and Rupohitoli. This area lies within the Teok revenue circle.

Among the important bird species in the area is the spot-billed or grey pelican which is found considerable numbers in the wetlands, particularly in Missamari beels.

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— Dalai Lama(THIS IS STATIC)