Indian football hero Jeje Lalpekhlua has been patrolling a long stretch of Tuichang river in his native Mizoram in order to prevent "overfishing" and help the livelihood of local fishermen.
The Tuichang river has been in the news due to overfishing, thus ensuring locals take care of the situation, one of them being Jeje.
The East Bengal striker, along with many youngsters from his village named Model Veng Hnahthial have formed a group that works 24/7 to help preserve the ecosystem of the river that is their livelihood.
“Overfishing has greatly reduced the number of fishes in the Tuichang River over the years. It was turning out to be a big problem, even for the local fishermen, who depend on the river for their livelihoods,” Jeje said to the-aiff.com.
He added, "Over the last year, we have all taken turns to patrol this stretch to make sure that nobody catches fish in this area. It’s very important for us to leave the fish alone, at least in the spawning areas. Just with this small step we are already seeing the results,” informed Jeje. “There are so many fish in the river now – local fishermen say that they haven’t seen so many in the river for years."
Jeje continued, "The guys in the village have really worked hard to ensure that this happens. They have all taken rotating shifts around the clock for 24 hours to keep an eye on the river banks. I have also been helping out whenever I’ve been in town,” he continued. “Of course, it’s not always possible during the season, when we had to spend five months in the bio-bubble in the Hero ISL.
The striker and other locals have been in constant touch with local government authorities with regards to fish conservation.
“We have been in touch with the Forest Department of Mizoram. If there are any issues, we inform them. They too lend us support,” stated Jeje, before adding, “There is a fishing area not very far from the parts where we set up our patrol. But since that is not exactly a spawning area, it has not had as much effect.”
Jeje then moved on to speak about environment preservation on a global scale as he said, "This is not just an issue for Mizoram. Depletion of resources is an issue that the whole world is facing right now. The world is getting warmer, and other creatures are being affected."
The East Bengal striker concluded, "We humans have created this problem, and we are the ones who need to set it right. The fish are valuable food resources for many. So we need to be selective with our fishing. These are very small steps, but they’re not very difficult. If we can continue, some world will be a much better place to live in after 7-8 years."