Tribals Impose Self-ban on Freshwater Fishing
KOCHI: We consider them to be a backward community. A community whose culture is not on par with ours, but these so-called backward people have taken steps that shame us into acknowledging that we are the ones who are far behind them when it comes to nature. Uncontrolled fishing, especially during the spawning period, has led to over-exploitation of native fish species and hence taken a toll on the riverine biodiversity of the state.
This has pushed many native species on to the verge of extinction. Now, a section of tribal people living in the forests of Vazhachal-Athirappilly area have come up with a solution to this problem. They have implemented a self-imposed ban on fishing in the water bodies in their territories during the monsoon period in order to save some of the fish species that play a pivotal role in their lives and livelihood.
The Kadar and Malayan communities will observe a voluntary moratorium on fishing during the monsoon as part of their Community Forest Resource (CFR) management plans. They a made a formal announcement to this effect at a function organised as part of formation of the management plans for around 20 fish species in the Vazhachal CFR area.
Speaking to ‘Express’, Tiju C Thomas, Assistant Coordinator, WWF India, which organised the function in association with Vazhachal CFR Coordination Sangham and the Forest Department said there are around 1,200 tribal people, in nine CFR colonies in the region, who collect forest resources, including fish from the water bodies in the forest, over the past many decades.
“There are around 70 native fish species in the forest region, of which 20-odd species play a pivotal role in the sustenance of their livelihood. However, there has been a steady decline in the quantity of some of the species. This prompted them to take up the matter with us and we have subsequently drawn up a conservation plan for 20 fish species.
As part of this, they have announced a self-imposed ban on fishing these species during monsoon period, he said, adding, this is for the first time in the history of the state that a section of tribals imposed ban on fishing in line with the government’s trawling ban.
According to Unnikrishnan, president of Vazhachal CFR Coordination Sangham, the self-imposed ban stretches from 15 days to a month during monsoon and will help prevent disturbance and depletion during the breeding season. This is a major step taken by the forest dwellers in conserving the rivers and riverine biodiversity of the state, he said, adding this can be emulated across the country to garner more attention to the plight of the rivers and people dependent on them.