A day after fishermen of Gosa village staged a protest in the office of district collector of Porbandar against the ban on fishing in Karli-Gosabara reservoir, an important wetland of the state and a hot-spot of lakhs of migratory birds, a group of farmers from nearby villages met the collector on Friday and requested him to continue the ban.
Farmers’ representatives of Gosa, Odadar and Ratanpar villages, located on the banks of the reservoir, met Porbandar district collector Dinesh Patel and submitted a memorandum signed by farmers of the three villages. In the memorandum, the farmers requested the collector to continue the ban on fishing in the reservoir which hosts scores of species of migratory birds during winter.
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“Many farmers told us that people were poaching birds from the reservoir and selling them illegally. As farmers, we feel that if we cannot prevent poaching of birds, we are as guilty as the poachers. We have requested the collector to think over this issue not only as an officer but as a human being also,” a farmer of Odadar village who led the delegation, told The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity.
Gosabara wetland is formed by Karli Recharge Reservoir and Karli Tidal Regulator. The reservoir is under control of the state irrigation department and therefore local forest officers have limited powers to exercise in this important destination of migratory birds. The wetland is a hot-spot of local and international migratory birds which land there during winter. Threatened species like Dalmatian pelican, white-eyed pochard, peregrine falcon and greater spotted eagles were recorded at this scenic wetland during a bird census undertaken by state forest department in year 2014. European bee-eaters, which are rarely sighted in Gujarat, were also spotted in Gosabara. The census estimated presence of 1.92 lakh birds of 112 species in the wetland.
The wetland is also nesting ground of water fowls like sarus crane and others. Roosts of greater and lesser flamingos, demoiselle cranes, common cranes, bar-headed geese and grey-legged geese are found in Gosabara during winter.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had visited the wetland in October last year and said that the state government will explore possibility of declaring the wetland some sort of reserve for preserving the area and checking poaching.
Fishing in the wetland was banned in 2010 and district collector of Porbandar had issued another order in November last year prohibiting fishing in the reservoir. However, fishermen of Gosa have been agitating for the last four days seeking removal of the ban. They say fishing is means of their livelihood and therefore some of them are on hunger-strike.
Incidentally, a resident of Gosa village was arrested by Navi Bandar Marine Police in November last year after he was allegedly caught fishing in the reservoir despite there being a ban on fishing in wetland spread over around 100 square km.