Fish reserve of Kaptai Lake has reduced remarkably over the years. Local fishermen and other resourceful personnel spoke about this in many instances in different media. They expressed their concern because Kaptai Lake has lost its glory regarding fish resource. Experts have been also trying to find the reasons since long. Experts voiced their concern due to constant reduction of brood fish in the lake. A particular way of fishing has been detected for the situation. Locally this is known as JAK.
This particular way of fishing is totally prohibited in Kaptai Lake. Because it causes extraction of total fishes of a particular area, and generally the fishermen involved with this doesn't show sympathy to brood fish and even to fry fish. They harvest every piece of fish. There are letters from Ministry to prevent this. It also became a concern for every one in every formal meeting to exchange views about this. But due to effective measures in the field the lake was losing its fish reserve gradually.
Realizing the necessity BFDC Rangamati took the initiative to combat against JAK. The initiative was highly supported by BFDC Head Quarters. Chairman BFDC arranged coordination meeting in Dhaka to organize the action and implement the decision. Accordingly necessary coordination from BFDC Rangamati unit was done with law enforcing agency which includes Nou Police, Zilla Police and District Administration. Coordination was done also with Army, BGB and Navy.
Combating against JAK was not an easy mission. To understand about operation against JAK, first we have to know how JAK is formed. In a curved portion of lake the local involved people assemble huge no of branches of trees inside the water. That acts as fish sanctuary and all species of fish around that area gathers in that particular JAK. Then they cover the surface with water hyacinth (Kochuripana) and enclose that area with bamboo.
While combating against JAK, at the first instance efforts were taken to remove the enclosed hyacinth as a process of eliminating JAK. Around 150 JAKs were removed in that process. But the effort did not see the light of success. Because same involved people covered those area again with the water hyacinth. Then the question came how can we eliminate JAK effectively? The solution came that we have to remove the branches of trees from under water to the hill top to eliminate JAK permanently.
But this is almost an impossible task. Because more than few thousand no of JAKs are placed inside the lake in various location. Speech of MP Feroza Begum Chinu is a testament of this. She explained in the Parliament that "JAK has spread over the lake like mushrooms". Removing heavy branches of trees from all those JAK sis not possible by limited no of employee of BFDC. Therefore we planned differently to combat against JAK. Our mission is to preserve fish resource of Kaptai Lake. So we planned, we will not allow the mischievous fishermen to harvest from JAK.
This time from BFDC we developed an intelligence network to learn where the bad fishermen are attempting to harvest from JAK. This attempt is well appreciated and supported by general fishermen and all people who all are dependent on Kaptai Lake for their livelihood. They started providing information to BFDC office when JAK harvesting operation took place in any area. To harvest JAK, expensive nets, boats with diving facility and normal boats are required. These items are very expensive and with the same item a particular team harvest at least 50 JAK. To complete one operation it requires around three days. If items from one JAK can be seized that will save at least 50 JAK.
With that concept Task Force were made taking personnel from all agencies for immediate operation. BFDC took the prime initiative and lead all operations against JAK since February 2017. Together with others we could seize items from more than 50 JAK. That made the JAK harvesting operation for the mischievous fishermen very expensive which they failed to tolerate. They had to give up their illegal actions. Because they could not bear the loss of all those nets, diving boats and other boats. With this process we succeeded to save fish from more than 80% JAK.
Initially we faced many difficulties while combating against JAK. That time Member of Parliament Feroza Begum Chinu came to visit this office. She expressed her satisfaction and appreciated the effort of BFDC. She extended her backing to continue with the effort. State Minister Bir Bahadur UShwe Sing MP, Minister of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs also supported the effort and encouraged the Manager BFDC in personal meeting. Local media also highlighted the effort in print and electronic media which encouraged us to continue with the effort.
Initiative of combating JAK has already achieved good result in preserving fish of Kaptai Lake. For last few years according to the report of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) brood fish did not released much egg in the lake. But this time in the month of June they observed magical change comparing to previous years. They discovered huge amount of fish eggs released by brood fish during the breeding time. BFRI Rangamati Senior Scientific Officer Md. Abul Bashar spoken, he is surprised by watching such development in the lake. He also expressed his hope regarding Kaptai Lake, that the lak is likely to get her glory back if operation against JAK continues.
The writer is Manager, BFDC, Rangamati
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