15 coracles, 30 fishing nets, other fishing equipment seized
Chamarajanagar: While the entire nation is under lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there seems to be no lockdown for illegal fishing activity in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Division.
Following a tip off about illegal fishing activities after dark in Cauvery River, the Kollegal Buffer Zone staff of Cauvery Wildlife Division and Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Division conducted an operation on Apr. 23 and have seized fishing equipment and coracles.
Over 80 forest staff, who conducted the search operation from 7 am to 4 pm, from Doddamaakalli to Muthathi, covering a distance of 10 kilometres, found 15 coracles, 30 fishing nets, 20 kg incense and other fishing equipment and seized them. Though not a single person involved in the illegal activity was found at the spot, the Forest staff found rice, cooking oil, plastic covers, bags, plates and vegetables at the spot and seized them.
It is learnt that the fishermen used to stay inside the forest area during nights, illegally fish and take the catch to Shilvepura in the early morning and sell the fish to fish traders of Sathegala (Hand Post).
On the Karnataka side, the forest along the river has been declared as a Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, fishing is a punishable offence and human activity has been restricted. However, on the Tamil Nadu side, fishing licenses are being given by the Fisheries Department despite strong objections by the Forest Department.
It may be mentioned here that on Apr. 21, a poacher, who was earlier working in Kerala had returned to his native place following lockdown and was involved in poaching of wild animals. A lot of labourers, who were working in various places, have returned to their native places due to lockdown and they are now indulging in poaching, illegal fishing and even setting fire in forest area. This has become a headache to the Forest Department.
Forest staff of Kothanur, Halagur, Sangam and Hanur Zones, took part in the seizing operation, according to a press release from Dr. S. Ramesh, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Cauvery Wildlife Division, Kollegal.