Destructive fishing practices on the rise in Thuligad; Policy on the cards to curb the way

KATHMANDU-There is an influx of people in Thuligand wetland area to kill the fish in a destructive way after the traditional fishing practices started dying out slowly. Thuligand is at the border of Kailali and Doti districts.

The number of fishes and fish species have declined in Thuligand in comparison to previous years after the people adopted destructive method to kill the fish. Thuligand flows from Chure Rural Municipality to Mohanyal Rural Municipality of Kailali district and Jorayal Rural Municipality and Badikedar Rural Municipality of Doti district and mixed at Karnali River.

It has been learnt that the people have adopted destruction method such as poisoning water resources and using electric current to kill the fish.

The Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (Nefej) recently held a program under the Paani Project at Khimdi in Mohanyal Rural Municipality-4 in coordination with USAID to hold discussions on the conservation of aquatic animals along with the fish.

Local representatives, fishermen, local people and fish experts among others were present in the program. During the program, they said that the number of fishes has decreased due to the adoption of destructive method.

Speaking at the program, Kalak Bahadur Bohara of Byureni, Badikedar Rural Municipality-3, Doti district, who has been eking out his living by fishing for the past 25 years, said the number of fishes has declined due to the people who use destructive method to kill the fish.

“I am a fisherman. I don’t have any other work. I use net to catch the fish. We used to catch fish up to 25kg in the past. But now we get only small fishes,” he said.

“We tried to convince the people to not use destructive method to kill the fish, but to no avail,” Bohara said.

Also speaking at the same program, Niramal Basnet, female community health volunteer, of Mohanyal Rural Municipality-4 said that fishing by closing the river is another reason for the decline of fishes.

Mostly women and children are involved in this kind of work. Children even killed fish by using bamboos and stones, said Indra Devi Bohara of Khimdi.

“Our children use bamboos to kill the fish. There used to be big fishes in the river. We find only small fishes these days,” she said.

Locals said that the use of poison and current to kill the fish in the Thuligand not only affects the fish but also the people and other animals.

Samai Budamagar of Mohanyal Rural Municipality said that they provide the water of Thuligand to their livestock and people use poison in the same water to kill the fish. He said the poisoned water affects their livestock.

He said the rural municipality or ward should formulate regulations and policy to stop this kind of activity.

The Nefej organized this program with an objective to make the locals aware and local representatives responsible in Khimdi which has majority of ethnic group.

On the occasion, Bam Bahadur Buda Magar, treasurer of local community forest, said that mostly people kill the fish at Thuligand during the breeding season. He said the practice of fishing by using poison or current should be stopped during their breeding season from March to June.

Similarly, speaking at the same program, Chakra Bahadur Raskoti, Principal at the Bhrikuti Secondary School, said that the use of poison to kill the fish not only affects the fish but also other aquatic animals. He said that everyone should join hands to protect the aquatic animals. Raskoti said that he will also tell this thing to his students.

During the program, fish expert Suresh Wagle said that it’s high time to raise awareness among the people about the conservation of protect fish and aquatic animals. “The reproduction time of fish is from April to July. But some fish reproduces twice in a year. One from May to July and another from October to November,” he said. He was of the opinion that the fish could be protected if the concerned authority imposes ban on fishing during this time.

One 10kg Sahar fish releases around 500,000 eggs at a time and killing that fish means to kill 500,000 fish. That is why, the concerned authority should make the people aware about this fact and intervene to discourage the practice.

Meanwhile, Mohanyal Rural Municipality Chairman Nawal Singh Rawal said that the rural municipality has been formulating policy to curb the destructive fishing practices and to conserve the aquatic animals.

“We have been raising awareness among the people for the past 45 years that the fish should not be killed by using poison. We have been formulating policy to protect the water animals. We have asked the Paani Project to help prepare the draft of the policy. We will implement the policy as soon as possible,” he said.

He also informed that a commitment was made during the Paani discussion organized by Nefej at Solta-6 last time that the poison should not be used in any rivers.

Saying that the rural municipality has taken initiative from ward-6 to stop fishing by using poison and current, Rawal expressed his commitment that the rural municipality will strictly implement the policy in the coming days.

Talking about the commitment made during the Paani discussion held at Solta last time, Mohanyal Rural Municipality ward-6 Chairman Tikram Bhandari said that the fish protection campaign has already been started in his ward.

Bhandari said that he has scrapped the tender to kill the fish from this time as per the commitment made during the Paani discussion last time.

Mohanyal Rural Municipality Vice-Chairperson Puja Devi Buda Magar, ward-1 Chairman Nabin Pun Magar, ward-3 Chairman Nanda Ram Giri, ward-4 Chairman Tek Bahadur Bogati, ward-5 Chairman Chabilal Haulali Magar, ward-7 Chairman Khar Prasad Adhikari, locals, journalists and members of Drinking Water Consumers’ Committee among others were present in the program.

Six commitment have been made during the program.

  1. Policy will be formulated to protect water animals and aquatic biodiversity with the help of Paani Project
  2. Poison, wild herbs and explosive materials and current will not be used to kill the fish
  3. Nets smaller than Aulewill not be used to kill fish
  4. Every ward will organize awareness program to protect the water animals.
  5. No one will be allowed to fish during the time of reproduction
  6. Aama Samuha (Mothers’ group), community forest, school and concerned stakeholders will work from their side to stop the use of destructive method to kill the fish
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