BARPETA, May 16 - Unabated fishing of brood fish in Barpeta district has now led to a decrease in the number of indigenous fishes and is even pushing several species towards extinction.
It has been observed that provisions of the Assam Fish Seed Act, 2005, are not being followed in many places, including fisheries belonging to the Assam Fisheries Development Corporation (AFDC). The Act clearly prohibits the use of nets with mesh size of 7cm x 14cm from April 1 to July 15 every year, and use of nets with mesh size of 1x2 cm throughout the year.
Besides, catching of egg-laden fishes belonging to certain species is also restricted within this period. Certain fishes below 9 cm or 10 cm in size cannot be caught as per the Act from August 1 to October 31.
The Act also prohibits bamboo-made obstructions or traps of less than 7 square cm from April 1 to July 15 in any river, small or big ponds and any other notified fishery.
These provisions were incorporated to ensure natural breeding, propagation and growth of indigenous fishes. But it is a matter of regret that there is minimal impact of such a law in the field for reasons best known to the department concerned.
With the advent of the monsoon rains, indigenous fishes bearing eggs begin an unusual movement. They come out in large numbers from their original habitats so that they can lay eggs in safer places. But some unscrupulous elements have been trapping these brood fish in several areas of Barpeta district.
Incidents of illegal fishing are common in interior areas, some even take place in areas easily accessible by car or bike.
The eastern part of Barpeta district has several natural fisheries. Kapla, Tabha, Hablakhowa, Barkana, Salmara and Silla Beel are situated in the area. Except Silla, all the others belong to the State government-owned AFDC. Most of them, including Kapla Beel, are known to be breeding grounds for fishes like Kawoi, Goroi, Sol, Magur, Singhee, Pabha, Bhakua, Rou and many more.
But due to unabated fishing, many species of indigenous fish are facing extinction in this area. Once abundant, people nowadays do not find Pabha, Gachi or Lachim in this area, while Rou, Bhakua, Mirika, etc., are reared artificially in closed ponds only.
The fisheries department seems to be indifferent to this issue. Police is also reluctant to intervene in matters of illegal fishing without receiving specific complaints. As the supply of fishes dips, the price of local species of fishes have become very high.