Chinese authorities are accused of protecting fishermen and harassing local activists. Many monasteries dot the area near the lake and Tibetans traditionally do not eat fish. The central government has declared the area a tourist zone and the fish a protected species. However, the influx of ethnic Han settlers has led to increasing violations.
Xining (AsiaNews) – Chinese authorities have detained and questioned Tibetan activists trying to stop illegal fishing in Qinghai Lake, saying the Tibetans are taking the law in their own hands, local sources say. The lake is located in Qinghai province, in the north-eastern-most part of the Tibetan Plateau.
Chinese fishermen caught fishing in the lake are frequently released, after complaining that Tibetans have seized their nets and other fishing gear, one local resident told Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan Service.
“When the Tibetan activists take away the fishing nets and hand them over to the police, this results in disputes with the fishermen,” the source said.
China’s central government has declared the area of Qinghai Lake, also called Kokonur (In Oirat, a Mongolic language), a tourist area and the lake’s fish a protected species, and has promised that anyone caught fishing in the lake would be punished in accordance with the law.
“But since the fishermen have good relations with the local police, they are quickly set free, while the Tibetans are held for questioning. Some of the local activists have been held for several days on charges of bad behaviour, though most are released after being questioned for a few hours.”
One activist was recently held for four days, and was asked if he and his group had sent pictures or video clips to contacts outside the country, and whether they were being organised and directed by outside forces.
Teams of volunteers from many communities around the lake have been working around the clock to stop fishing in the lake. Tibetans are against it because they consider the Qinghai Lake a sacred place. Many monasteries can be found in the lake area and Tibetans traditionally do not eat fish.
Incidents of illegal fishing have increased in recent years around Qinghai Lake, with local Tibetans stepping up monitoring activities in response.
Directives from China’s central government urging protection of Tibet’s vulnerable environment are often flouted at the local level by Han Chinese settlers to the area, experts say.