New Delhi, May 15: Just a few weeks ago the banks of the Tuichang River in Mizoram was abuzz with locals maintaining vigilance to prevent overfishing. Among those keeping watch was Blue Tigers and SC East Bengal striker Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Jeje, along with a number of youth from his village – Model Veng Hnahthial –formed a group to help preserve the ecosystem of the river that flows close to their homes.
“Overfishing has greatly reduced the number of fish in the Tuichang River over the years. It was turning out to be a big problem, even for the local fishermen, who depended on the river for their livelihoods,” Jeje said.
The local people of Model Veng thus identified a 500-metre stretch along the banks of the Tuichang, where the fish are believed to have their spawning grounds, where they have set up a 24-hour patrol, to make sure no fishing is carried out in the area.
“Over the past one year, we have all taken turns to patrol this stretch to make sure that nobody catches fish in this area. It’s very important for us to leave the fish alone, at least in the spawning areas. With this small step we are already seeing the results,” informed Jeje. “There are so many fish in the river now – local fishermen say that they haven’t seen so many in the river for years.”
“The guys in the village have really worked hard to ensure that this happens. They have all contributed to keeping an eye on the river banks round the clock. I have also been helping out whenever I’ve been in town,” he continued. “Of course, it’s not always possible during the season, when we had to spend five months in the bio-bubble for the Hero ISL.”
Jeje and the local boys have also been in constant touch with the local government authorities who have supported the group’s conservation activities.
“We have been in touch with the Mizoram forest department. If there are any issues, we inform them. They always support us,” stated Jeje. “There is a fishing area not very far from the parts where we set up our patrol. But since that is not exactly a spawning area, fishing there has not had any adverse effect.”
Jeje, who is fondly known as the ‘Mizo Sniper’ amongst his fans, feels that it is important to keep everyone’s interests in mind, when it comes to protecting the environment.
“It is only through such endeavours that society can move forward together. This is not just an issue for Mizoram. Depletion of natural resources is a problem that the whole world is facing right now. The world is getting warmer and other creatures are being affected,” stated Jeje.
“We humans have created this problem, and we are the ones who need to set it right. Fish are valuable food resources for many. So we need to be selective with our fishing. These are very small steps, but they’re not very difficult. If we can continue, soon the world will be a much better place to live in.”