The call for an emergency lockdown in the country due to the outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the sharp declines in demands and supplies, lesser business and trade, transport and supply disruptions in the fish sector. The situation has affected the farmers’ and fishers’ life and livelihoods to a larger extent. During this challenging time of lockdown, the livelihood of fishers of Kothia maun of East Champaran District of Bihar was enhanced through increase in production and productivity and increase in fishing days.
Kothia maun, located 38 Kms of Motihari Town and typically “Oxbow” shaped in appearance has maximum water spread area of 60 ha and the depth ranged between 2 - 7 m. Around 200 fishers’ families earn their livelihoods by carrying out fishing under the control of Tetaria Block Fisherman Cooperative Society.
The fishing is being carried out in the wetland as per the ICAR-CIFRI’s guidelines for the wetlands and reservoirs for COVID-19 management like using face cover, maintaining social distance of 1.5 meters between two fishers and a distance of 4 meters between two boats. The fishers harvested around 3.6 tonnes of fish in 10 days and sold them at the wetland site only. The fish catch includes Indian Major Carp Rohu, Catla, Mrigal, Exotic carps Amur carp, Grass carp and small fishes like Gudusia chapra. During the lockdown period, the Fisherman Cooperative Society earned Rs. 4 lacs through open water fisheries.
The ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore initiated development project at this wetland in August, 2018 for implementing the scientific management norms in a participatory mode. The programme “Wetland Fisheries Development Projects of Bihar under Central Sector Scheme (CSS) Blue Revolution” has successfully demonstrated the Institute’s technological intervention in optimum exploitation of under-exploited wetlands of Bihar in respect of fish yield with financial assistance from NFDB, Hyderabad. The three prolonged strategies adopted by the institute was input, infrastructure and information dissemination to implement fisheries enhancement protocol developed for ox-bow lakes.
The ICAR-CIFRI’s technological interventions in Kothia maun have brought several fold improvements in catch per unit effort, increase in fishing days from 30 days to 90 days and fish yield from 55 to 160 Kg/ha. The prolonged fishing days have also reduced migration of fishers for non-fishing jobs to other cities.
(Source: ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, Kolkata)