Fishermen’s use of LED causing overfishing in Loktak lake
DIMAPUR — Highlighting the detrimental practices of local fishermen employing LED lights for fishing within the core area of the Loktak lake, the All Loktak Lake Area Fishers Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM) has called for a prohibition on the use of LED bulbs in fishing this season.
The Union had previously called for a ban on the practice within the immediate vicinity of the lake water body, under the supervision of the Champu Khangpok Floating Island Village fishing community. ALLAFUM had also decided not to use LED bulbs or Injao Thaba, a local night fishing technique, in Loktak lake from December 30, 2022, to March 30, 2023.
According to ALLAFUM secretary Oinam Rajen, the population of fish in Loktak lake has declined sharply in recent years due to the blocking of the traditional passage of migratory fish populations by Ithai Barrage, a component of the Loktak Hydroelectric Power Project, and overfishing using various fishing techniques.
Rajen said that the practice of fishing at night using LED lights is not only causing overfishing, but it is also negatively affecting the feeding grounds of the wintering migratory water birds that visit the lake between October and February each year.
Local fishermen allegedly began using LED devices, a semiconductor diode commonly used in electronic displays, to attract fish with bright lights.
Along with a total ban on night fishing with LED lights, the ALLAFUM secretary reiterated their call for a closed season for fishing during January–February to prevent overharvesting of fingerlings during the spawning period and that local fishers must refrain from using closely knitted fishing nets with mesh sizes of 10cm and 13cm to avoid catching fries and newly spawned fish.
The ALLAFUM is also opposed to the practice of catching fish with battery-operated dynamo-apparatus, which shocks and kills not only fish but other life forms such as amphibians, insects, and planktons. The current season is for fingerlings to grow into more mature fish, and fishing all day and all night can lead to a rapid depletion of the fish population.
Rajen added that the Loktak Development Authority must take a proactive role in designing and implementing an effective strategy for lake management and conservation with the support of Loktak fishers in order to achieve meaningful lake conservation and prevent biodiversity loss.