Besides fish, local anglers throw bait for conservation
DIMAPUR, MAY 23 : Here is the irony: anglers in Nagaland, much like everywhere else, are the ones campaigning for fish conservation. Since the early part of this year, the group of anglers –under the banner of Anglers Association Nagaland (AAN) – has introduced initiatives to educate on the conservation of “indigenous fish population” in Nagaland.
According to the general secretary of AAN, Phukato Sumi there are about 200 different species of fish found in Nagaland today. Out of these, more than 100 species belong to that category of rare fishes not found commonly in other parts of the world, Sumi told Eastern Mirror recently.
He cited the availability of snow trouts and mahseers in the rivers of Nagaland, both in the category rare species, as examples. Especially in the case of mahseers, it is considered as one of the 20 mega fishes of the world. It is also one of the most sought-after game fish for anglers across the globe.
Unfortunately, in India it is also one of the most endangered species of fish. “In Nagaland, we have plenty of chocolate mahseers and golden mahseers. But our people are not aware of its endangered status. Out here it is simply catch it and eat it. Or sell it,” according to Sumi.
This was one of the reasons why the AAN, when it was constituted in September 2013, had adopted the promotion of awareness campaigns “on conservation of indigenous fish population in Nagaland” and “to arbitrate and oppose the use of chemicals, electricity and explosives for fishing” as two of their primary objectives.
In March this year, they organized the Tzuzha Angling Festival at Doyang River in Wokha with the dual purpose of promoting angling as a recreational sport and to educate the people living in the perimeters of Doyang on fish conservation. The two-day had event registered 1200 visitors.
While the education on conservation is mainly focused on the people living in the perimeters of the river, a more formidable challenge is provided by those living in the cities and townships, especially “the officers and the ministers.”
It is this group of people who introduced the (ugly) practice of using chemicals, explosives and electric currents to catch fish, according to Sumi. “They will go to the village and pay some money to the villagers or to the landowner and the use chemicals, explosives or electric currents in the river. And they will leave will their catch.”
According to Sumi, Nagaland has a rule that outlaws the use of such methods to catch fish. “But we have never heard of the government persecuting anyone. Such practices cause irreparable damage to our entire marine ecosystem. The AAN is very serious about this and we already have a plan for it. After that we will file an FIR.”
Since it came to establish in 2013, the AAN has organized around 8 angling events/competitions. In such events, they make it mandatory for the participants to release their catch if the fish measures less than 6 inches.
In some cases, especially at Doyang, they have released fishes that weighted more than 2 kilos, according to Sumi. “We (the AAN) are about 400-500 member group. And for most of us we see it as a recreational activity. So we have no issue releasing the fishes back to the waters.”
Also, the AAN aims to promote tourism in the state through the sport of fresh water angling events in rivers, lakes and ponds. “At present we are going to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim to participate in angling competitions.
“We go in groups of 17 or 18 persons from Nagaland. We pay Rs 7/8 thousand per guides and then for tents, vehicles, food and lodging. We can have all of that here in Nagaland. Imagine, the people living near Doyang can earn lakhs of rupees from that all through the year,” Sumi shared.
(Note: Angling is a method of fishing by means of an “angle” (fish hook). The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself can be dressed with lures or bait. A bite indicator such as a float, and a weight or sinker is sometimes used. Angling is the principal method of sport fishing.)