The Assam Government issues an order around this time of the year regarding certain directives over fishing, but in reality the picture painted is totally opposite.
It has become a customary practice of the Directorate of Fisheries banning fishing during the breeding season.
This year also, the Fisheries Department has issued guidelines to the district fishery development officers particularly in the districts of Barpeta, Cachar, Hailakandi, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Nagaon, Morigaon, Kamrup, Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao, Udalguri, Chirang, Dhubri, Goalpara, Darrang, Baksa, Kokrajhar and Karimganj.
As per the directives under the Assam Fishery Rules, 1953, there are prohibitions over use of Borjal/Mahajal or Fasijal or any type of nets with meshes less than seven cm/14 cm during breeding season.
Moreover, there is prohibition on catching of brood fish of certain species in any fishery. There is also prohibition of catching and killing by any method, of fish for any purpose including consumption and selling of undersized fish of certain species during this period.
These are aimed at ensuing natural breeding, propagation and growth of fish in all fisheries and natural water bodies.
However, all these remain in papers and rampant fishing goes on in every nook and corners of the State every year.
The images tell it all. Local markets and make-shift shops mushrooming across the State openly sell fishes with eggs during breeding season across the State under the very nose of the administration.
But on the contrary, the neighbouring country of Bangladesh has come up with strict measures to ensure breeding of fish.
Bangladesh has banned fishing off its coast for 65 days from May 20 till July 23 to try and boost depleted fish stocks.
During this period all types of fishing vessels would be covered by the ban and coast guards have been specifically directed to enforce it along Bay of Bengal.
Bangladesh is known for its fish exports, especially the king of all fishes – the majestic Hilsa.
There were times when the famed Hilsa of river Padma after its breeding season in the Bay of Bengal even came downstream to Assam – particularly to Morigaon and Mangaldai.
But over the years due to reckless fishing, the production of Hilsa in Bangladesh has depleted in enormous proportion.
There were short-term bans on commercial fishing in the past in the nieghbouring country, but this is the first time that all fishing boats, including local fishermen, have been banned for a lengthy period.
It is about time that the Assam Government too come up with stringent measures to ensure that ban on fishing during breeding season is implemented in reality to save various local species of fishes in the State.