In Sundarbans, the poor demand right to fish

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Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) As rising sea levels force farming communities in the Sundarbans to explore other means of livelihood, a section of fishermen have voiced their demand to fish in the rivers and canals of the world’s largest mangroves.

“In the Sundarbans, poor fishermen are not allowed to fish in the rivers. In other states and in other districts, it is not the scenario.

“According to the West Bengal Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1993, fishing in the Bay of Bengal is banned for a certain period of the year but it does not bar fishing in small creeks and rivers, but still we are not allowed to do so,” Joykrishna Halder, secretary of the West Bengal United Fishermen Association, told IANS.

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He said the fishermen had approached the forest department ahead of the assembly polls with their request but no action has been taken so far.

The cluster of islands in the Indian Sundarbans stretch across two districts — North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas.

Polls were held in Sandeshkhali and Hingalganj islands of the Sundarbans in the North 24 Parganas on Monday. South 24 Parganas will witness balloting on April 30.

The fishermen, mostly residing in Gosaba, Basanti, Sagar, Kultoli, Kakdwip, Diamond Harbour, Raidighi, of South 24 Paraganas, expose themselves to danger of attacks by Royal Bengal tigers during their attempts to eke out a living through fishing, said Halder.

“But they still do it because they do not get any compensation in terms of foodgrains etc. which is provided in other states. How else will they fend for themselves?” he asked.

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