Awareness: More than 60 foresters from Wangdue and Punakha came together to conduct a daylong awareness on illegal fishing in the area.

Fishing is not allowed along Punatsangchu. If caught, people were imposed a fine of Nu 5,000 to Nu 15,000.

Divided into 12 groups, the foresters visited places from Kabjisa in Punakha to Kamichu in Wangduephodrang, scanning illegal fishermen along the river basin and visiting hoteliers, shopkeepers, local people and residents.

A chief forest officer (CFO) in Lobesa, Karma Tenzin, said this awareness was a holistic approach to combat illegal fishing by educating the communities and soliciting their support. “It is a targeted awareness conducted mostly in areas where illegal fishing was rampant,” he added.

He said people involved in illegal fishing in the area were doing it for commercial purpose. “The hoteliers and shop owners demand and illegal fishermen do it for financial gain.”

The CFO also said despite conducting daily patrolling, the trend continues to thrive. “Coming up with a collaborative awareness programme was found as an approach to combat the trend.”

A forester, Tashi Dendup, said every time they go for patrolling, they apprehend more than three people fishing illegally. “There are rumors that fish in Thimphu were supplied from Punakha and Wangdue.”

Forest officials said this time they have informed and sought help from the dzongkhag administration to make it a collaborative effort not just to apprehend illegal fishermen and vendors but create awareness.

They intend to seek support from local leaders in future.

Tashi Dendup said although they conduct patrolling every day, people keep track of the patrolling timing and fish in areas foresters cannot cover. “We have shortage of manpower.”

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue