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The Traditional Fishing Community
of Deepor Beel

The research attempts to understand the traditional ecological knowledge and practices of the fisherfolk from the Ramsar Site

of Deepor Beel. It links their traditional fishing technology and

natural management of wetland resources in restoring and

managing the ecological cohesion of Deepor Beel.

The belief system of the fishing community

sees them as a part of the natural environment.

The community has survived over generations revering nature by using its resources wisely to be self-sufficient. The fishermen of Deepor Beel have developed a diverse range of traditional fishing tools using Traditional Ecological Knowledge to capture a wide variety of fish species. To date, they use the same age-old gears used by their forefathers.



Traditional fishing gears of the fishing community of Deepor Beel is four fringe villages, namely

• Keotpara

• Notunbasti

• Borbori

• Matia

Traditional Knowledge System

The fishing community further adheres to certain rules and regulations which help in the conservation of wetland ecosystem and biodiversity. Although the dependency on the beel has increased over the years, the production of fish is maintained, this is because of the measures embarked on by the community.

These rules and regulations, interestingly have great resemblance to the modern fisheries management which suggests that  the fish stocks may be managed by regulating fishing effort directly, controlling catch through quotas, maintaining the age and size at which the fish are first exploited, by prohibiting fishing either in certain areas or at certain times of the year, or by measures devised to prevent habitat destruction (JONES, 1984).

The traditional knowledge system of the community has enhanced them to deal with all the disturbances the beel was facing for ages and while the Guwahati city was urbanising, and they maintained the ecosystem under uncertain and changing conditions that today Deepor Beel has the status of the Ramsar site.

With years of practice and training, the

fishermen adapted to the changing scenarios of the Beel and accordingly made certain changes in the technological aspects.

The fishing community of Deepor Beel manages the wetland by applying their knowledge of the wetland ecology for practical purposes in fishing and have developed various traditional tools/ gears, traditional boats, methods and techniques from the implementation of their ecological knowledge system.

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It can be argued that the traditional ecological knowledge of the fisherfolk is the genesis of motivation for environmental ethics. Their belief system sees “humans as a part of the natural environment”, and their association with nature is of “peaceful coexistence.”

All measures and efforts to restore the wetland, its ecosystem and natural resources taken will achieve greater success if the importance of the traditional ecological knowledge and skills of fisherfolk in coping with environmental damage is understood and acknowledged.

The Ramsar Convention also admits community engagement as an essential tool in promoting the Convention’s goal of ‘wise-use’ of all wetlands due to its advantages over the conventional strategies of management (Ramsar Handbook, 2016).


The fisherfolk of Deepor Beel have survived over generations by revering nature and using the natural resources wisely, making them self-sufficient in terms of resources. Therefore, learning and adapting to these sustainable ways can be very useful in the long run to preserve the ecological health of the beel and manage the available resources.

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