Despite ban, fishing continues unabated

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Jul 2017 11:24:52


By Natasha Giani,

Being the breeding season, fishing is banned between June 15-August 15. The ban is routinely enforced and flouted with open disdain. Large shops and small kiosks sell fish without fear or hesitation. Fishmongers stock large quantities of the local Narmada and Bargi fish. Fishing now is a crime punishable by law but it continues unabated right under the nose of the concerned authorities. Nets are visibly spread to catch a rich haul and many pregnant fish are trapped and on being slit open reveal sacs of roe that could have translated in to lakhs of fish had they been allowed to ripen and mature.

Fishing and fishmongering is easy, low in investment with good returns. Local villagers fish and if successful get a rich haul that is sold at low rates to the big fishmongers that in turn sell them for 250-400 rupees per kilogram. Prawns are also caught by fishermen, amateurs and professional and fetch a high price selling anywhere between 650-1200 a kilogram. Its not surprising to see officials of the Fisheries department routinely buying fish from the better known outlets of the city.

On one hand the government promotes fish breeding in ponds and wells while the one month when fishing is prohibited, it fails and turns a blind eye to the illegally thriving trade. The district administration has proved an utter failure in safeguarding fish from human greed, not permitted to follow the most natural circle of procreation and expansion of their breed. Fish trading is a big time affair and myriad varieties are exported from Coastal areas of Kolkata and Mumbai. It is believed that a strong mafia rules the roost and it’s virtually impossible to break that net or infiltrate the tightly knit group.

Taufique Ansari, a famous fish trader disclosed that it was the small fishermen, mostly amateurs that sneaked in to isolated sections of the Narmada River, the Bargi dam, nullahs and water bodies to angle for a catch. Its neither feasible nor possible for them to open their own stalls or go door to door because selling also involves cleaning, cutting and in some cases deboning the fish. Such amateurs approach them but are paid one fourth their market price. “We have overheads to consider and that includes pay offs to the authorities to break the law.

It’s a trade where all are involved in illegal business during the banned period. Agreed, we are a part of the racket but there is no other option. The unemployed youth that comprises a large section of amateur fishermen indulge in the activity only during monsoons when fishing is easier and fish, abundant, approach us with one or two fishes and the offers are far too lucrative to turn away. If we don’t, somebody else will buy their merchandise. It’s a question of demand and supply. Only when people stop purchasing fish in the breeding season, some kind of an effective ban would be possible, till then everyone enjoys a fillet of fish!”