Eel fishing in the Logtak lake provides an alternative livelihood to the Rongmei Naga community of India’s Manipur.
Nearly a hundred thousand people of the Rongmei Naga community live in Manipur. Achungmei – the correspondent of this video is one of them. Most of these community members live bellow the poverty line. They practice slash and burn cultivation method, growing vegetables and fruits on the slopes of the hills. However, this is not enough to support an entire family. So for their survival, the tribals need an alternative means of earning. Eel fishing in the Logtak lake is currently that other source of income for the Rongmeis.
Spread over 40 square km, Logtak is the largest freshwater lake in the north east region. The water of the lake is mostly covered with water weeds, making it a perfect breeding ground for eels. For people of Manipur, the staple diet is rice and fish. So there is a huge demand for fish, especially eel in the local market.
Interestingly, before Manipur became a part of the Indian republic, the rights of fishing in Logtak used to be given by the king to his cavalry soldiers as remuneration for their services.
Luckilly for the local tribal community, such exclusive fishing rights are no longer given to anyone. So the poor tribals are now free to fish and earn their livelihood through selling their catch to local customers.
Some of the community members, such as Achungmei’s family members do not fish themselves, but are regular consumers. So, by buying eel from the local fishermen they help their community.
Achungmei says that this video is an effort to highlight the way her community members depend on fishing in Logtak and preserve this lake, so the source of her community’s livelihood gets secured.