Shillong, October 9 : The Lumwahniai community in the East Khasi Hills District of Meghalaya, India, has launched an innovative Fish Conservation Zone (FCZ) program supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The program is aimed at sustainable fisheries management and the preservation of vital aquatic ecosystems.

The FCZ program focuses on the preservation of fish along a small strip of the Rymben River, allowing them to multiply and grow untouched by human activities. The goal is to preserve aquatic habitats not only for the present but also for the years to come.

The program inauguration ceremony, held at the Community Hall in Lumwahniai on October 7, 2023, witnessed a convergence of community leaders, environmental experts, and government officials. The event included cultural presentations, a detailed explanation of FCZ rules, and the official signing of agreements.

The Lumwahniai community’s commitment to the FCZ program was evident in the words of Headman M. Khonglam, who emphasized that “this initiative will help us to realise the need to preserve nature and all its living creatures, along with the fishes, and we are grateful to the effort of Dr. Bashida Massar, for such an initiative that will be a blessing to our future generations.”

Dr. Bashida Massar, Associate Professor, Deparment of Zoology at St. Anthony’s College, Shillong, and Co-PI of the project, shared that “the FCZ program is a testament to the power of community-led conservation, where vulnerable ecosystems can be managed through the community’s desire to enforce and empower the regulations of the FCZ.”

P. Lyngdoh, Fishery Officer, East Khasi Hills District, Government of Meghalaya, applauded the Lumwahniai community for taking the lead in this important initiative, stating that “the FCZ at Rymben marks a significant step towards ensuring the long-term health of our aquatic ecosystems, and we are proud of this project and the communities that are taking the lead towards the preservation of aquatic life in our waters. Lumwahniai becomes an example for the entire state through such a project.”

E. Khongtyngkut, Rangbah Shnong Nongtyngur, extended a heartfelt vote of thanks to all participants, acknowledging their dedication to the achievement of the FCZ program. The community then embarked on a symbolic walk to Rymben, culminating in the official declaration of the opening of the FCZ at Rymben by Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy.