Fish farming is being carried out by private contractors for past many decades at the Morni tals. The lakes of Tikkar tal are treated as ‘public waters’ under the Indian Fisheries Act, 1897 and the Punjab Fisheries Act, 1914. The 40 hectare area of the lakes is leased out for a period of 5 years for fish farming by the Haryana Fisheries Department through an open auction. As per the Rules notified under the Punjab Fisheries Act, the fish farming contractor is allowed to catch fish with commercial fishing nets measuring 4 centimetres from knot to knot or 16 centimetre all around. The contractor cannot use poison, dynamite, electric current etc for catching fish. The contractor cannot catch fish below the length of 30 centimetres comprising Rohu, Catla, Mrigal, Mahseer and Carp (Common, Grass and Silver). The contractor is required to submit a monthly catch data report to the Fisheries Department.
The Tikkar tal is currently leased to a Chandigarh based contractor for a period of 5 years (to expire in 2016) for an annual lease amount of Rs. 1.6 lac. The contractor procures the seed from Fish Seed Farm of Haryana Fisheries Department at Jansui, Ambala. The contractor in turn engages ‘shikaris’ for catching fish with nets. The catch is best when water levels are moderate. The catch typically includes Catla, Rohu, Mrigal and ‘Golden’ that is sold from a booth at the fish market at Sector 21, Chandigarh. Catla sells at around Rs. 130-140 per kg.
The leasing system, however, denies the sporting activity to the amateur anglers, who could otherwise obtain a licence under the rules from the District Fisheries Officer and catch upto 3 fish a day, not below 30 centimetres, using fishing rod and line. The angler is, however, not allowed under the terms of such licence, to sell his catch in the market. The fisheries department needs to consider allowing angling in the Tikkar tal by compensating the fish farming contractor appropriately. This would draw tourists to the lakes. The Haryana tourism department can offer the fishing rod and line on hire for the beginners.