Islamabad - Facing severe problems in effectively controlling illegal fishing at Rawal Lake, the Fisheries Department plans to seek Rs 55 million in the next fiscal year.

Talking to APP yesterday, Fisheries Deputy Director Ishtiaq Ahmed said that lack of staff and required equipment was the main reason behind ongoing illegal netting at the Rawal Lake.

To a question about availability of videos of illegal fishing being done on social media, he said that the one of the two boats of the department was out of order and only eight watchmen were working while as many posts were vacant. He said due to staff shortage, the watchers had to do extra duties. He said if the proposed funds are given, the department would purchase one more motor-boat, fill the vacant posts of watchers and appoint eight new watchers to ensure effective check on illegal fishing.

However, he claimed that despite lack of staff, his department has been doing its best to control illegal hunting of fish.

He said the department was regularly conducting raids to check the illegal activity and illegal nets are confiscated on daily basis.

Moreover he said that there is no police check-post near the lake and whenever some illegal hunters are caught, they escape from the scene before police arrival.

Furthermore, he informed that if someone is caught from the Lake, Secretariat police have to be approached while if someone is caught from outside the lake around Bani Gala side, Bani Gala police have to be contacted.

The deputy director also said that lack of staff has forced the department to do patrolling in only two shifts rather than three shifts. He further said as per Fisheries Ordinance, the staff was authorised to have weapons for their protection but due to lack of sufficient funds, they were not provided the weapons.

About future plans, he said that his department plans to rehabilitate the fish hatchery and build another hatchery on the upper side of the Lake.

He clarified that fish from Rawal Lake is not being sold in the market as the commodity being sold at stalls near adjoining roads, was brought from local fish markets.

However, anglers opine that illegal fish hunt at Rawal Lake through nets at the cost of hunters for fun and recreation was still going on without any effective check.

Visitors at the Rawal Lake told APP that people who come for fun and recreation have to pay a hefty amount of Rs 200 for one-day licence fee but they can hardly catch any fish as they are caught in the nets of illegal fishers.

A frequent visitor to the lake said that the fishermen’s equipment are confiscated only when some complaints are lodged but later returned to grab money. He said that mushroom growth of fish stalls near the lake was an ample proof of the illegal activity.

Another visitor opined that the Fisheries Department had no justification to raise fish hunt permits fee which a common man hardly affords.