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Gorkhaland Territorial Administration GTA bans angling till August

golden mahseer at Teesta angling
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) today appealed to anglers to refrain from fishing for four months - from May to August - to ensure the breeding season for prized fish such as the Golden Masher is not hampered. In order to conserve the Golden Masher and other endangered fish species found in the rivers and streams of the hills, the GTA had started issuing licenses to anglers from March this year. It hoped the move would stop unethical fishing activities. GTA fishery extension officer Sarthak Pradhan said, “We appeal to anglers not to fish from May to August as this is the breeding period for fish. Illegal fishing activities have pushed several fish species that were once found in abundance to a state of near extinction.”

Although fishing and related activities are looked after by GTA’s fishery department, the hill body’s tourism department has taken the initiative to promote angling tourism in the hills. The concept is new for the tourism sector of the Darjeeling hills. In March of this year, the GTA released fish hatchlings worth some Rs23 lakh in the confluences of the Teesta and Rangeet, Doban and Relli and Rambi as well as in the rivers of Mirik. They included the Golden Masher, Katla, Ashala and Sol varieties.

The GTA has also issued a notification forbidding angling during the May-August period to make it legally binding upon enthusiasts. “We have already issued a notification. Anyone violating the notice will be liable to get penalised,” said Pradhan. According to a provision in the West Bengal Inland Fishery Act of 1984, violators could be fined Rs 2,000 and also face imprisonment. However, the GTA is mulling over the penalties. “The law exists but has not been implemented in the hills. The GTA is

chalking out ways to implement the law,” Pradhan said.

It is very common in the hills for people to use dynamites, poison and electric current to catch fish in order to cut short the strenuous wait involved during fishing. “Using anything other than angling rods is dangerous. Our endeavour is to stop the practice of using dynamites, poison and electric current as they have long-term effects on fish and their breeding activities,” the extension officer said.

So far, more than 80 angling enthusiasts from Sikkim and other places from the hills have taken their licenses. The annual fee has been set at Rs 500 for anglers from the GTA area and Rs1,000 for outsiders. For tourists, the GTA will set up counters at various fishing spots and charge them Rs50 for an hour of angling. (EOIC)

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