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Drive against illegal fishing

Dhubri, April 16: Alarmed by a dip in fish production, the Dhubri district fishery department has asked fishermen to stop illegal fishing of fingerling and egg-bearing fishes from April 1 to July 15.

The Fisheries Rule, 1953, (amended in 2005), rule says catching egg-bearing fishes and fingerling and use of prohibited masri jaal and ber jaal and grill net of mesh size less than 7cm to 14cm, is prohibited from April 1 to July 15 every year.

A source in Dhubri district fishery department said besides this rule, catching or selling rohu, mrigal, catla and chital measuring less than 9 inches and mali, kuri and bhagan less than 3.9 inches in size is also prohibited from August 1 to October 31 every year. The use of mosquito nets for fishing is prohibited throughout the year in any waterbody.

Illegal and unscientific fishing is one of the major reasons for decline in fish production in the lower Assam districts from Barpeta to Dhubri where there are 17 tributaries of the Brahmaputra and hundreds of wetlands (beels). Despite such vast resources, Assam has to import fish, a source said.

Moreover, the source also said over the years, the natural system of egg-laying and breeding places of various fishes got disturbed resulting in low production. Construction of village road roads and embankments haphazardly on the river severed the link between river and wetlands (beels) which obstructed the free movement of fish.

“Free movement is needed for the growth of fish and if it does not get that space for movement its production is bound to decline. It has had an adverse effect on the natural production of fishes and even contributed to the extinction of certain species,” it added.

Dhubri district assistant fishery information officer Mukut Kumar Sarma said they had launched a drive against illegal fishing.

“We have deputed officials in various parts of the district who are keeping watch on the illegal fishing and if found guilty, they will be penalised,” Sarma added.