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TelanganaNagarkurnoolIllegal fishing in Amrabad Tiger Reserve limits impacts big cat movement

Illegal fishing in Amrabad Tiger Reserve limits impacts big cat movement

Published: 14th Nov 2021 11:54 pm

Nagarkurnool: Rampant illegal fishing in River Krishna under Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR) limits by contractors from Visakhapatnam, Kakinada and other parts, is impacting tiger movement in the reserve.

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Fishing is prohibited from Pedda Revu to support dam (about 15 km from main the dam) in the Srisailam lower reach covering an area of nearly 55 km. In the upper reach, the section from Chimaladibba to Akka Mahadevi caves is also a prohibited area.

This corridor is the key route used by tigers to swim across the river and reach ATR from the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) end.

However, private fishing contractors engage local fishermen in illegal fishing in prohibited areas, especially when the water levels are relatively low in the river.

This apart, they use mechanised boats to transport the fish from fishermen settlements towards Nagarjuna Sagar. The stocks are transported to Hyderabad, Guntur and other markets. Generally, the stocks from lower reach are transported to Nagarjuna Sagar and the ones in upper reach are sent to Kolhapur, Wanaparthy and other areas, said a senior official from ATR.

Seine drag nets

Besides venturing into prohibited areas, they use Seine drag nets, locally known as Alivi Vala. These nets are cover large shore and come in varying dimensions and sizes. They are operated by a group of fishermen with the help of boats or coracles.

It is a rectangular net with floats on the head rope and weights on the ground rope. When sizeable fish get trapped in the nets, they are dragged and in the process, tortoises and other marine animals also get trapped.

The use of these nets can impact tiger movement across the river as they too get trapped. To avoid these nets, they are forced to take long detours, which again is risky to them, explained the official.

There is a good demand for river water fish in all the markets. More importantly, the size and weight of the fish caught in these parts of the river is much bigger and heavier compared to the ones caught in other areas.

In one trip about 600 to 800 kgs of fish are collected from different settlements and transported to markets.

Citing approval letters from the fisheries department, local fishermen venture into the river.

They are permitted to use only coracles, known as ‘theppas’ but at times, they use mechanised boats and sneak into prohibited and indulge in illegal fishing, said the official.

ATRs River Patrol teams constantly monitor the boats’ movements. One team has to cover about 20 km area in a section for two days and another team is deployed to cover the balance area.

“On our part, every week, River Patrol teams monitor the prohibited sections and other areas. At times, when unauthorised boats are seized, there is a lot of political pressure to release them,” said the official.

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