Thursday, 30 July 2015


Fishes are a delicacy among the Nyishi’s of Tamen - III village in Upper Subansiri District of Arunachal Pradesh. Being blessed with the hill Stream Rivers, fishes are in plenty for the Nyishi’s to feed on. “We never buy fishes from the market as we go fishing to meet our needs”, said Tam Taring. In the good old days fishing was done either with fishing rods, nets or other traditional gears. Traditionally, people were barred from fishing during the breeding season & fishes were allowed to reproduce in grow their population. But with time perceptions change resulting in unsustainable fishing practices. “We knew that such practices would someday lead us nowhere but we had to feed ourselves & with time the feeding mouths have also increased”, said Markio Tallar.    
River Pehain Koroaa where fishes were caught
 by blasting or electrocution
The community resorted to killing fishes relentlessly by using dynamites (for blasting under water) & electrification though generators. One blasting or electrification would fetch fishes in good quantity but the community was not able practice this dangerous art frequently as the density of fish population reduced drastically. Gone were the bindings of not fishing during the breeding seasons. Notwithstanding the fact that it is illegal to use dynamite for fishing, people resorted to using the same without any thought. “I can’t remember who for the first time used dynamite or generator for fishing, I simply used do it to feed my family”, said Ms. Boa Shanty, who was using dynamite for fishing.

A village boy going for fishing with a net
The practice of blasting went on & on thus having an adverse impact on the aquatic environment of the hill streams & rivers. Apparently the fish population was going down drastically & people were struggling to get fishes from such sources.  Tamen - III is one of the project villages where FARM (Facilitating Agricultural Regeneration Measures) North East (project) partner Itanagar Diocesan Development Association (IDEA) is working. Team IDEA came to know about the malpractice of fishing in the year 2013 & decided to do something about it. During November 2014 Team IDEA that was already in touch with the community for FARM North East activities, tried to find out what actually was going wrong. “Our consultations with the farmers’ club (FC) revealed that they had a great concern on the rampant malpractices (blasting) being carried out in their area”, said Sanjit Basumatary, Team IDEA.

Fishes caught from the river
From here it looked like that the people were slowly realizing the impact of such unviable practice of fishing. They could realize that if this persists, sooner or later fishes could well be a history. “The present trend of fishing looks scary to me, a few varieties of fishes that existed in the past are nowhere to be seen now”, said Ms.Guchi Puma. The communities were responding to the awareness generated by Team IDEA.

It was time for making resolutions by the community against the practice of killing fishes by dynamite or electricity. Team IDEA standing strong behind the community by motivating them by all possible means. “We thought it’s high time that we take some stringent steps against this prevailing menace” said Tenik Yacham. The FC them resolved strongly that now on no one would be allowed to use dynamite or electricity for fishing & also that fishes would not killed during the breeding season. And if that was not enough, the village council promulgated rules that invites heavy fines to the tune of Rs 10,000 to anyone caught using dynamite or electricity for fishing. The rule came into effect immediately during April & 2015 & the community too is responding to the same. “We are here to ensure that our next generation does not hear about stories on fishes, they also enjoy the taste of it”, said Ms. Kabak Chaluk. Selling & buying of dynamite is a history in Tamen - III village & more so people are aware that nature has still a lot to offer. “Conservation of environment is in our blood, just that we needed to revive the practice”, said Ms. Guchi Sho wearing a grin on her face. 

Contributed by: Taw Bosco, IDEA, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh
Edited by: Prabal Sen, Caritas India, Guwahati

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