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Fishing to become an offence in India soon?

September 14, 2013 20:25 IST

The livelihood of lakhs of fishing community people we well as lakhs of common villagers in the country may be jeopardised if a particular section of the latest amendment proposed to the Wildlife Protection ) Act gets the approval of Parliament.

This has been the voice of concern raised by leading conservation brigades and wildlife workers in the country as the said section of the amendment bill if accepted in toto may turn the traditional practice of fishing in natural wetlands in the country into an offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

Several leading environment conservation organisations and workers in the country have raised objection to the Section 44 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act Amendment Bill 2013 which has been tabled in Rajya Sabha by the government.

Aaranyak, a premier biodiversity conservation organization based in the Northeast India, along with the Wildlife Protection Society of India and Wildlife Society of Odisha has submitted a joint memorandum to the government through the joint director of Rajya Sabha directorate, demanding withdrawal of the Section 44 of the amendment bill.

The memorandum stated the Section 44 would be detrimental to the livelihood security of lakhs of fishing community people as well as common people in the country. According to this section, barring the fishes produced through systematic farming, all fish species found in the natural environment will be considered as wildlife species.

In case this definition is accepted, barring those businessmen armed with license from the Chief Wildlife Warden, no other person will be able to catch fish in natural wetlands and sell the same. Moreover, it will be considered an offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act if fish is procured from unlicensed traders and even cooking of such fish.

Such violation will lead to imposition of fine up to Rs 25,000 and jail term upto three years. Aaranyak is of the opinion that such a definition of wildlife will be a lethal blow to the livelihood of lakhs of common people thereby pushing their life to the darkness of uncertainty. “Such a ‘suicidal decision’ will strain the relations between the people and the government and facilitate some opportunist forces to exploit natural resources to their advantage which may lead to unrest in the country,” Aaranyak stated.

K Anurag in Guwahati