Dams

World Fisheries Day 2017: Dams, Rivers & Fisheries in India

Every year, November 21 is celebrated as World Fisheries day across the world. Fisherfolk communities organize rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, dramas, exhibition, music show, and demonstrations to highlight the importance of maintaining the world’s fisheries.

As per a recent United Nations study, more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming. The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks. https://www.gdrc.org/doyourbit/21_11-fisheries-day.html

In an attempt to understand the significance of the issue, SANDRP with the help of selective media report, presents an overview of key developments and problems affecting fisheries and fisher folks at India and South Asia level.

NATIONAL

New guidelines for inland fisheries In April 2017, Union Govt issued guidelines for the States on framing a Bill on inland fisheries and aquaculture, amid mounting concern over the pollution and encroachment of water bodies in Kerala and the long- standing demand to protect the traditional rights and livelihood security of inland fishers. According to the guidelines, encroachment or reclamation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and pollution of water sources is to be treated as a punishable offence. Dumping of solid waste in lakes, wetlands and lagoons has also been recommended for punishment. The guidelines propose regulations on the use of fishing craft and gear to protect commercially important fish species from exploitation. This is indeed welcome, but these are only guidelines, without any road map for implementation. We need to push govt to effectively implement these.  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/new-guidelines-for-inland-fisheries/article18197044.ece

IWAI to study impact of waterways on dolphins The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) decided in May 2017 to conduct an impact study on the Bihar-Jharkhand Gangetic stretch. The National Waterways (NW)-1 project covers two significant aquatic wildlife sanctuaries—Kashi Turtle Sanctuary in Varanasi and Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur. Though the IWAI has got permission from the UP wildlife board for ship navigation through the Kashi Turtle Sanctuary, the Bihar wildlife board is yet to allow the same through the Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary. Wildlife researchers have shown that navigation of heavy ships on the Ganga would be a potential threat to the survival of dolphins in the sanctuary as well as on the entire Bihar and Jharkhand stretch. Let us see how credible this study is. The impact has already started with the dredging going on for several months, as SANDRP blog reported many months ago. There is no word about this study in public domain, even at the end of Nov 2017. http://www.hindustantimes.com/ranchi/iwai-to-study-impact-of-waterways-on-dolphins/story-whwSqisKXow7aGwW8W87aN.html

Resolutions of the General Body meeting of National Fishworkers Forum, held on Dec 9-10, 2016. Several of them are noteworthy, including about National River Navigation Plan (Resolution 1), Demand for separate fisheries ministry (Resolution 4), Compensation for damage to livelihood of fishers (Resolution 5), Implementation of Madhav Gadgil Com recommendation and save Western GHats (Resolution 9), Fisheries Rights Act (Resolution 11), Considering of fisheries rights while amending CRZ notification (Resolution 12), Resolution of drinking water problem for fisher families (Resolution 16), among others. Plz circulate and add strength to the NFF. https://www.facebook.com/sandrp.in/posts/1492326910794977

An editorial on Hilsa which says India can learn from Bangladesh how to save Hilsa! http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/bangladesh-west-bengal-hilsa-sheikh-hasina-overfishing-bay-of-bengal-4482551/, Jan 2017

MoEF Formation of National Coastal Mission  The Union Environment Ministry (In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-sections (1) and (3) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986)) formed the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) to the nation at Chennai in Oct, 2017. The research undertaken by NCSCM is to be used for arriving at policy decisions and for capacity building of coastal communities and other stakeholders. The objectives include

– Promoting integrated and sustainable management of the coastal and marine areas in the country for the benefit and well-being of the traditional coastal and island communities;-

– Strengthening capacity of coastal management at all levels, including stakeholders;

– Advising Union and State governments and other associated stakeholders on policy and scientific matters related to Integrated Coastal Zone Management; –

Striving to become a world class institution through cutting-edge research pertaining to understanding coastal zones, coastal processes, integrated planning & management of coastal and marine areas. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=167426, July 2017, Gazette Notification: http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/2017/179451.pdf, Oct 2017

CIFRI needs to improve hugely to achieve any credibility from current consultancy driven agenda it is perusing K D Joshi wrote this article in Current Science (http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/113/09/1652.pdf, Nov 2017). One hope it helps generate necessary debate, norms and work for improving the state of fisheries in decision making process that affects them.

The article makes very interesting reading, since the author was till recently also member of MoEF, Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley Projects and in that capacity sat over scores of questionable decisions on dams and hydropower projects, without any protest as can be seen from the minutes of the EAC. This committee also appraises environment flows and approves projects without ANY credible studies on environment flows. Dr Joshi was till recently also senior scientist at CIFRI, Govt of India’s premier institute supposed to be protecting the riverine fisheries, but lately seems more involved in consultancy studies for hydropower companies. CIFRI, unfortunately is not known for having done any effective attempt to protect riverine fisheries, which is its basic mandate.

– The article also makes some unfounded claims like this one: “India is currently facing large shortages in base and peak electricity.” It is well known, as India’s Power Minister also announced, including in Parliament that India is power surplus. Studies show that this situation is going to prevail for decades to come. The peak power shortage has also come down hugely in recent months, as also reflected in the price of peak hour electricity costs at the energy exchanges.

– VERY strangely, the author uses 2014 installed capacity figures for an article published in NOV 2017. The figures and situation has HUGELY changed in these three years.

– He further says: “comprehensive and interactive attempts are still lacking in the Indian rivers because of the dearth of a sufficient eco-biological database.” Unfortunately, its CIFRI and EAC that is majorly responsible for this state of affairs.

– He also adds: “However, in the Indian scenario (even elsewhere too), most of the stakeholders are not aware of sound scientific water requirements of their respective activities.” That is such a self serving statement. Even if this is true in some sense in some cases, who is responsible for this state of affairs and what is CIFRI and their representative in EAC is doing, besides rubber stamping questionable decisions for project after project?

– As per the author: “Till date, there is no scientific documentation of in situ water requirements of any of the fish species in relation to their spawning, nursery caring, feeding, migration (if any) and other life stages in any of the river systems.” Why is this the situation? What is CIFRI doing about it? Why is the science of estimating these factors even for the key stone fish species you mention is so poor? You mention need for multidisciplinary work. Yes, that is required, but what about taking the first step in coming up with basic criteria for each of the key stone species by CIFRI? Why is that also not done? Why is the CIFRI representative in EAC not demanding such studies, in stead of rubber stamping the EAC decisions?

One wishes there were some satisfactory responses to these questions, Dr Joshi provided none in his subsequent response. Today there is no place for fish or those that depend on fish or the river in the decision making process at EAC. Institutes like CIFRI and their scientists are more busy doing consultancies for hydropower companies. This needs to change and Dr Joshi is in an eminent position to initiate this.

Young fishermen at the GangaThe fishing community knows the river and its ways unlike anyone else.PTI

GANGA Govt to study on Hilsa fish National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in April 2017 decided to conduct a study on it in the Ganga river. The issue was discussed at the meeting of NMCG’s executive committee on 24th March 24, 2017. The meeting discussed the exploratory survey on Hilsa along up/down stream of Farakka barrage. As per the meeting minutes, in order to understand the migration behaviour and status of these species it is imperative to carry out the investigation on the status of life stages of Hilsa in and around Farakka barrage. The project is for exploratory survey on Hilsa and life stages availability along up/down stream of Farakka barrage. No further news on this. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/t1h1xheF9PLGmP3MJYXyrO/Govt-to-conduct-survey-on-Hilsa-fish-to-save-the-species.html

Save Ganga, Sully the Ganga Nachiket Kelkar warns (May 2017): To put it straight, the scale of river “development” and destruction imagined by the waterways plans is monstrous… In February and March 2017, when we were conducting fieldwork, intensive dredging was going on at six stretches between Buxar and Sahebganj, a distance of over 450 km. Large ships have started plying regularly. At Patna, work on the Gai Ghat port terminal is also in full swing. Digging up Gangaji to make a highway means bulldozing our lives. “Sarkaar garib machhuare ke pet pe laath maar raha hai (They are kicking us in our stomachs),” says Amit Sahni (name changed), a leader of the Kagzi Tola fishing settlement at Kahalgaon. Unfortunately, Nachiket puts too much hope in the Uttarakhand HC order. There is not much scope for hope there. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/save-the-ganga-sully-the-ganga-4624471/

EAST INDIA

West Bengal Disappearing Hilsa may get legal protection This is key: Officials in the fisheries department explained that the need for tough legislation was now more urgent than ever. One official spoke about the river, before 1972 – that saw the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage – where hilsa provided a lucrative livelihood for fishermen in mid-stretch of the river, generating employment for thousands of fishermen from not just Bengal, but also Bihar and UP.

There is something wrong in the figures in first half here: Assessment of the production trends of hilsa from 1961 to 2013 in the middle stretch of the Ganga by Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) revealed a significant decline in the annual average production from 36 to 0.9 tons. Findings by CIFRI reveal that during the period 1998-2012, the average catch of juvenile hilsa (2 – 20 grams) from the system was a staggering 85 tons per year. Experts predict that saving even 1 per cent of these juveniles could enhance the hilsa production by 4000 tons per year.

This notification exists, but seems to remain unimplemented: It wasn’t until 2013 that a specific notification was brought in by the West Bengal government to control overfishing and conserve the hilsa population. The notification lay prohibitions on catching of the fish using a gill net having mesh below 90 mm, prohibited catching, transport or sale of small hilsa. It also declared five hilsa sanctuaries on the Hooghly river from Farakka to Sagar, covering a stretch of 250 km, where fishing has been banned between June-August and October-December. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/west-bengal-its-numbers-dwindling-hilsa-may-get-legal-protection-4479250/, January 2017

W Bengal sees dwindling hilsa catch after Farraka According to the govt estimates the hilsa catch has come down from 33,102 tons in 2000-01 to 9,269 tons in 2014-15, a decline of close to 72 per cent.  Concerned at the decline in availability of hilsa, scientists from Jadavpur University in Kolkata are developing a model to predict how much hilsa would reach the Bengali platter every year.  As per the report, before the Farakka barrage was built on the Ganges, hilsa was found in Hardwar too. Like Bangladesh govt, W Bengal is also planning to bring in strict legislation to protect hilsa. http://www.hindustantimes.com/kolkata/jadavpur-university-scientists-developing-a-model-to-predict-hilsa-catch/story-qlPqq5SG2vapfTQQiD8mxJ.html, Feb 2017

Fisheries dept set to utilise rain water to augment fish production A welcome move by W Bengal fisheries department, this can have multiple advantages provided first existing small tanks are revived, catchment is reforested where feasible and then only go for new small dams, and that too after free, prior and informed consent by the local communities. http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/fisheries-dept-set-to-utilise-rain-water-to-augment-fish-production-236970, April 2017

COMPLAINT AGAINST RIVER FISHERFOLK IN W BENGAL They are catching Hilsa, during their spawning time, when Bangaldesh fisherfolk observe ban. “The fisheries department is in a quandary as fishermen have been indiscriminately catching Hilsa from the Ganga in Murshidabad, ignoring a ban on catching the fish between Sept 15 & Oct 24 because it is their spawning time.” https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/hilsa-worry-for-govt-181074, Oct 2017

Bihar Fishing in Ganga’s troubled water Nachiket Kelkar writes in captivating style: River animals and river people have a complicated relationship. There is no particular harmony of any sort, but there is no inexorable animosity either. If anything, there is a deep visceral connection between them, one that connects their tissues to river sediment—through fish. The act of fishing, for river animals and river fishermen, is an expression of their love, which is, quite paradoxically, realised only through deception, ambush, and killing. In Bihar’s Gangetic floodplains, where the ‘law of the fishes’ prevails, the act of fishing is also one that can lead to murder, threat, and harassment. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-sundaymagazine/fishing-in-gangas-troubled-waters/article17410699.ece, March 2017

Wetland revival pays rich dividend Encouraging story of how a group Mutlupur village farmers in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar turned a 87 acres of shunned wetland (locally known as chaur) productive by practicing fish farming, agro-forestry and horticulture thus providing employment and livelihood opportunities to impoverished villagers. https://www.thebetterindia.com/116185/mutlupur-farmers-transform-neglected-wetland-integrated-farming-bihar/, Sept 2017

Odisha Govt to make new law for protection of fishworkers’ interest In a bid to protect the rights of traditional fishworker communities living in and around Chilika lake, Odisha government on July 24, 2017 has decided to bring a proper legislation. A proposal submitted by the Forest and Environment department was approved at the state cabinet meeting chaired by CM. Interesting proposal. We in fact need protection of fisher people’s livelihood everywhere? http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-odisha-to-make-new-law-for-protection-of-fishermen-interest-in-2513692

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Mind-blowing hilsa catch in Mahanadi delta in Aug-Sept 2017 The fishermen and fish traders in Paradip port town have had their best season in last 12 years with their cumulative businesses adding up to Rs 300 crore, a report said. About 7,200 ton of hilsa was caught between Aug 26 and Sept 6 which is a sort of record, admitted local fish traders. After 2005, there was a drastic fall in production due to several reasons which made the variety much dearer.  But the catch suddenly went up since Ganesh Puja this year making fishermen work round the clock. The sudden increase in hilsa population near the river mouth forced the fishermen to call their relatives from Andhra Pradesh for assistance. According to the traders’ account, hilsa worth Rs 2 crore was being sold a day since Aug 26. Some traders even didn’t get time to sleep at night, said T Ramana, a fish trader. On the other hand, each fisherman who went for fishing has earned more than a lakh in these 12 days, it was learnt. The fishermen, who left their native place due to poor hilsa catch, had to be called back to make some quick bucks. This is interesting news about sudden rise in Hilsa catch in Mahanadi delta, reasons are not clear why this happened. http://www.orissapost.com/fishermen-ecstatic-over-mind-blowing-hilsa-catch/

NORTH EAST INDIA  

Northeast aims at self-sufficiency in fish production The northeast is yet to become self-sufficient in fish production despite the fact that 95% of the region’s population consumes fish. Fisheries production in North East India is far below potential, currently the region is dependent on imports. According to CIFRI, northeast’s fish production in 2015-16 was 4,23,749 MT, 4% of the country’s total fish production. Assam had the largest share with 2,97,000 MT, Tripura produced 68,331 MT, Manipur 32,000 MT, Nagaland 8,220 MT, Mizoram 6,828 MT, Meghalaya 6,560 MT, Arunachal Pradesh 4,410 MT and Sikkim produced 400 MT. The northeast’s present requirement is 4,82,384 MT. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/northeast-aims-at-self-sufficiency-in-fish-production/articleshow/58510569.cms, May 2017

Regional consultation on open water fisheries development The ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CIFRI) of Barrackpore in West Bengal organised a regional consultation on ‘Open Water Fisheries Development in the North East Region’ in May 2017. A total of 40 delegates, including scientists and researchers from ICAR-CIFRI, participated in the consultation. Dr BK Bhattacharjya, Head of ICAR-CIFRI Regional Centre, Guwahati, welcomed the participants and sought inputs from the delegates on the roadmap for open water fisheries development in the North East prepared by the institute, before publishing it. Good to see that the ICAR-CIFRI Regional Centre has developed a roadmap for open water fisheries development in the North East. http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=may0817/city056

Well come Initiative: National Inland Fisheries Policy consultation  http://www.easternmirrornagaland.com/consultation-on-national-policy-on-fisheries-held-in-manipur/, Aug 2017

Meghalaya Village bans fishing in river stretch to save fauna A tiny village in West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya has banned fishing on a stretch of the Rilang river to preserve its fauna. The fish sanctuary near Rohbah village, about 130 km from here, has helped rejuvenate the fauna which has been depleting over the years. The initiative also got support from residents of 7-8 nearby villages through which the Rilang rolls down. The villagers say the fish sanctuary, established about five years ago, has helped increase yields of the river. http://www.india.com/news/agencies/mlaya-village-bans-fishing-on-river-stretch-to-preserve-fauna-2009566/, April 2017

Assam Fisherfolks asked not to catch Hilsa Fish during breeding season Local fishermen are catching tonnes of hilsa (also known as ilish) fish in the Brahmaputra near Tilapara, south of Chandardinga Hill, beside Chapar, in Dhubri district. This is the breeding season for the hilsas and catching hilsa is banned in neighbouring Bangladesh during this season. According to sources in the Fisheries Department, the Department has requested the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) concerned to take steps locally to prevent the practice of catching hilsa fish during this breeding season. The District Fisheries Development Officers have also been asked to take up the matter in due earnest with their respective DCs. http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/detailsnew.asp?id=oct2017/state054, Oct 2017

Manipur  Najma for decommissioning Ithai dam Speaking at the launching programme of “Anthropogenic impact & their management options in the different ecosystems of the Indian Himalayan region (Imphal/Manipur river basin)”, governor Dr Najma Heptulla has assured that she would pursue the Govt to decommission the Ithai Dam (Loktak HEP). The Governor observed that the barrage has posed a serious threat to the ecological balance in the State, particularly to Loktak Lake and its surrounding areas. She also expressed unhappiness that the initiative taken up to clean Loktak Lake by investing around Rs 2 crore has not paid much dividend. http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=9..200917.sep17, Oct 2017

Fishery as an agenda for Barak Festival 2017 There is need to think, promote and encourage the villagers to take up fishery along the tributaries of Barak River. This will not only serve as an alternative source of livelihood but also as a means of regenerating nature. Without follow up action, Barak Festival will be just another waste of time and money. This festival should not be a mere occasion of enjoyment for the rich and the educated people of the state. The benefit of Barak Festival must reach to the River, the poor and illiterate villagers. The article raises important points in the context of proposed Barak River Festival.  http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=education.Science_and_Technology.Fishery_as_an_agenda_for_Barak_Festival_2017_By_ZK_Pahrii_Pou, May 2017

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Manipur’s fish feast Married women are invited for a fish feast on Oct 21 (Ningol Chakouba, the biggest and unique non-religious festival of Manipur). Govt was apprehensive that fish catch will be low due to multiple (at least five occasions in last two months) flood events last monsoon, but were relieved that fish farmers brought over 85000 kg of fish in the market. http://www.nagalandpost.com/ChannelNews/Regional/RegionalNews.aspx?news=TkVXUzEwMDEyMjY3OA%3D%3D

NORTH INDIA

Uttarakhand Curious case of disappearing Ramganga’s fish Fishermen are confused by the decline in fish numbers in the Ramganga. While the dams and the resultant fragmentation of rivers are the single largest threat to fish species, especially in the mountain areas, some stretches of the Ramganga are still free flowing. Studies have discovered that the changes in the land use and the resultant non-point source pollution may adversely impact riverine fish.  http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/curious-case-disappearing-fish, January 2017

मसूरी में मछली पकड़ने वाला अनोखा मेला, हजारों लोग एक साथ नदी में उतरे पहाड़ों की रानी मसूरी के नजदीक जौनपुर में उत्तराखंड की ऐतिहासिक सांस्कृतिक धरोहर मौण मेला आज (28 June) शुरू हो गया है। हजारों की तादात में ग्रामीण अपने पारंपरिक वाद्ययंत्रों और औजरों के साथ अगलाड़ नदीं में मछलियों को पकड़ने के उतर गए हैं। हर साल मनाए जाने वाले इस अनोखे मेले में हजारों की संख्‍या में जुटकर ग्रामीण अगलाड़ नदी में मछलियां पकड़ते हैं। इससे पूर्व अगलाड़ नदी में टिमरू के छाल से निर्मित पाउडर डाला जाता है, जिससे मछलियां कुछ देर के लिए बेहोश हो जाती हैं। हजारों की संख्‍या में यहां ग्रामीण मछली पकड़ने के अपने पारंपरिक औजारों के साथ उतरते हैं।मानसून की शुरूआत में अगलाड़ नदी में जून के अंतिम सप्ताह में मछली मारने का सामूहिक मौण मेला मनाया जाता है। https://www.livehindustan.com/uttarakhand/dehradun/story-fishing-fair-in-mussoorie-historical-maun-mela-start-from-today-slide3-1159831.html June, 2017

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Villagers caught a 125 kg monster catfish A catfish, weighing an estimated 125kg and caught illegally in the Ramganga river near Corbett national park. But the freshwater monster, probably the biggest catfish ever found in Himalayan rivers, became dinner before it could be weighed on a certified scale and measured. Wildlife officials came to know of the catch after watching videos and photos of the fish tethered to a bamboo pole with a thick plastic rope and hauled by two men on their shoulders in Almora district’s Manila village. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/what-s-for-dinner-in-this-uttarakhand-village-a-125kg-monster-catfish/story-fFBKcSU2Vq7FdCxipMfl3K.html, July 2017

Jammu & Kashmir Freshwater fisheries breeding grounds shrinking, production declining  

* The total fishermen population in the State as per livestock census 2003 was around 31,000. It is presently estimated around 93000. The 27781 Km. length of rivers/streams facilitate farming of more than 40 million tons of fish. The State has 0.07 lakh ha under reservoir area.

* There are 1248 lakes, including water bodies, and water is spread into 0.40 lakh ha area which gives an indication of the potential for fisheries in the State. The Dal & Wular lakes produce 70% of the total fish production in J & K. http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/story/236812.html, 22 Dec 2016

Exotic Predatory Fish Killing Native Species Social media carried pictures of fish seed being poured in Baghliar Dam reservoir by the Department of Fisheries last year. Inquired about the specie being introduced got on the expected lines no response. The purpose was to inquire whether any mandatory studies have been carried to evaluate the direct and indirect ecological impacts of such fish seed being introduced. State has already faced disastrous impact by the callous unscientific approach of the authorities by introducing exotic predatory species in the state. This wiped out almost entire fish fauna of approximately 150 species and eliminated native biota. Depriving affordable source of nutrients and livelihood and affect local biodiversity. Almost one year detail research spot verification interaction with the cross section of the society gave anxiety moments about the approach of the concerned department. June 2017

Dwindling Wular lake threatens livelihood A good report of how destruction of lakes, rivers, wetlands in Kashmir is leading to destruction of livelihoods of large number of people. https://thewire.in/176667/kashmir-wular-lakes-livelihood/, Sept 2017

Punjab Massive hunt on for missing Indus dolphins  Only four of the 18-35 Indus River dolphins have been located in the Beas following a drastic cut in the water flow to enable de-siltation and repair of canal gates at the Harike barrage. This has set alarm bells ringing among the wildlife lover and experts as some of the dolphins could have been swept into the canals or the Sutlej downstream of the barrage posing a high chance of mortality for them. It is worth noting that Indus River dolphin (Platanista minor) is one of the world’s rarest mammals and the second most endangered freshwater river dolphin. The tiny population on the Beas is the only one surviving in India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/massive-hunt-on-for-missing-indus-dolphins/articleshow/58056263.cms May 2017

According to Gunbir Singh chairman WWF, Punjab the pond areas in different pockets of the Harike wetland have dried up. He blames the sudden stopping of waters for the rampant destruction of aquatic life. He also said that at least 90 per cent of rare species of fish and turtle are dead. The Indus dolphin, the pride of this wetland, is in danger too. To make matters worse, encroachers have stepped up activities on the dry beds. While the Irrigation Department blames the Forest Department for its failure to take timely measures, the latter, denying rare species have been lost, say Irrigation officials have been “dilly dallying” on releasing water into the wetland. Normally 30,000 cusecs of water flows into the Harike wetland, a confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers. However, it measures just 3,770 cusecs as of now. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/community/rare-aquatic-species-feared-dead-at-harike/388336.html May 2017

Haryana Fish farming on 10,000 waterlogged acres in Charkhi Dadri Waterlogged for years and unfit for agriculture, an area of around 10,000 acres in 35 villages of Charkhi Dadri district is set to get fish farming, the state govt has decided. The agriculture ministry report revealed that over 4.5 lakh ha land in Haryana was affected to waterlogging, leaving farmers in dire straits. In the first phase of the fish farming plan, a pilot project is to be run in Jhajjar and Charkhi Dadri. The govt would take the land on lease from owners and share the income with them. In Charkhi Dadri alone, 35 villages have been facing waterlogging problem for five years. Under water for so long, the land has turned unfit for agriculture. Could this have adverse impact on the surrounding land? One hopes, there would be assessment of long term impacts.

Feedback from Prateek Kumar (based in the same area and doing a summer project entitled ‘problem identification of water issues in this region’ with ACWADAM) on SANDRP facebook post:Just at a distance of 5 kms from these water logged area, dark zone declared ‘Badhra’ block is there. Both the blocks, Charkhi Dadri n Badhra, comes under the command area of Loharu lift irrigation canal (LLIC). This canal has a high tail ender problem, no WUA in place. Water logging in this area is mainly due to paddy cropping through canal irrigation. Even canal too had a high rate of water losses due to single layer brick (SLB) lining. Instead of investing in fisheries in this area if rehabilitation of canal and by regulating paddy cropping, much better results can be achieved.

That approach can help this area in two ways, first the water logging issue will be addressed and if the same water made to reach the notified area, it can help there in checking the declining water table. As in the notified area, there is high presence of ‘johads’ and at present their only source of water is canal water. If it is made to reach to those ponds, it can contribute to aquifers through. Doing fisheries here can further create problems in Charkhi Dadri area, it may lead to further expansion of these water logged areas.” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/fish-farming-on-10000-waterlogged-acres-in-charkhi-dadri/articleshow/58250142.cms, May 2017

SOUTH INDIA

Devil_Fish_screenshot_AP_Telangana

Andhra Pradesh Godavari-Krishna link affects fish in Krishna river

* According to researchers from Acharya Nagarjuna University the Pattiseema lift scheme has damaged the delicate ecological balance of river Krishna through introduction of new aquatic life into the Prakasam Barrage across the river in Vijayawada. They suggest that the state government should take up environment impact assessment (EIA) studies on interlinking of rivers in the state.

* As the AP government plans to interlink all the rivers in the state, the researchers warn that unless full-fledged EIA studies are conducted the damage would be more than the benefits the project would accrue.

* They also say already exotic fishes present in the Godavari have entered the Krishna. They are causing damage to fish nets in Prakasam barrage. Piranha fishes are carnivore and can cause damage to native species. Interlinking of rivers may cause huge amount of distortion in the existing environment. There will be mass deforestation for canals and reservoirs. This will have impact on rains and in turn affect the whole cycle of life. The amount of fresh water entering seas will reduce and cause a serious threat to biodiversity of estuarine and ecosystems.

The ‘devil fish’, which made its way into the Prakasam barrage across river Krishna in Vijayawada from Godavari through the Pattiseema lift scheme, has now `invaded’ the Nagarjunasagar (NS) reservoir. Experts warn that the devil fish may soon spread to Srisailam reservoir, upstream of Nagarjunasagar dam across the Krishna. From there, the fish may enter into other rivers including Tungabhadra, Pennar and Musi as they are already interlinked. It may also damage the delicate ecosystem in all the water bodies en route as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have an intricate network of irrigation and drinking water channels that spread over thousands of kilometres. The alien invasive fish has thus far been limited to Godavari, Cauvery and a few pockets in India. It entered the Krishna riverine ecosystem earlier this year after the inauguration of the Pattiseema scheme. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/blame-it-on-interlinking-krishna-ecological-balance-takes-a-hit/articleshow/56082611.cms, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/nagarjuna-sagar-dam-sees-an-influx-of-the-famous-devil-fish/articleshow/56137740.cms, Dec 2016

Fisheries set to get a major boost The State Govt has prepared plans to make the State a world ‘aqua hub’ by increasing fish production from 25 lakh tons (February 2017) to 42 lakh tons with a GVA (Gross Value Added) of Rs. 80,000 crore by 2019-20. The Planning Department has given an important place to fisheries in the socio-economic scenario of the State. Andhra ranks first in total fish and shrimp production and contributes more than 70% of cultured shrimp produced in the country. The State ranks third in global shrimp production (0.3 million tons) and sixth in aquaculture production (1.57 million tons). Andhra is contributing 1.19% of global and 20.77% of national fish production (2014-15), according to the Socio Economic Survey 2016-17. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/fisheries-set-to-get-a-major-boost/article17969838.ece, April 2017

30,000 dead fish floating in polluted Hyderabad lake Nearly, 30,000 rohu, bochha (katla), bangaru theega and koramenu species were killed in the latest incident at the lake located about 30 km from the city, authorities said. A WEEK AGO about 40,000 DEAD FISH WERE FOUND floating in Shamirpet lake, while over 20,000 were found floating in Medchal lake earlier. Officials blamed heat. Fishermen suspected alarming levels of pollution in urban lakes around Hyderabad could be another reason for the recent spate of fish deaths. Lakes and tanks around city are becoming a deadly mix of domestic sewage, municipal waste and hazardous waste dumped irresponsibly by industries. When it rains, all this flows into lakes and tanks. Since these wastes contain all kinds of acids, plastics and chemicals, the subsequent reactions reduce the level of dissolved oxygen in water which makes it impossible for fish to survive. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/now-30000-dead-fish-found-floating-in-rampally-lake/articleshow/58887422.cms, June 2017

Karnataka No Water for river from Tungabhadra dam No water is being released from Tungabhadra dam, since the dam is not yet full, threatening the downstream river, biodiversity, communities and environment. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/poor-monsoon-hits-aquatic-life-in-the-tungabhadra/article19404831.ece, Aug 2017

DRP 6

Delay in raising fish hits fishing community The delay in raising fish in the Hemavati Reservoir has hit the 300 families residing in villages on the banks of the Hemavati backwaters fishing community in and around Goruru in Hassan taluk very hard. Many fishermen, who are dependent on the dam for their earning, are now contemplating moving to other places for jobs. The delay in letting the fishlings into the dam has prompted the fishing community to doubt if the govt is trying to privatise fishing in dams, as it was prevailing earlier. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/delay-in-raising-fish-hits-fishing-community/article20608684.ece

WEST INDIA

Ken, Betwa linking will hurt fishing economy Criticizing the controversial Ken Betwa linking, Dr Anish Andheria, president of the Wildlife Conservation Trust,  says that the govt’s river-linking proposal is a no-go project. According to Dr Andheria, the diversion of surplus water from the Ken basin to the dry Betwa basin will have several repercussions. “There is no such thing as surplus water. It is important for fresh water to flow into the sea as it reduces salinity at the mouth of the river” says the conservationist. He added that the govt has not accounted for the large number of trees that will be lost in the project. It is true that Impact of fisheries in fact is never seriously considered in any project  http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/ken-betwa-river-linking-will-hurt-fishing-economy-in-the-region-dr-anish-andheria-president-of-the-wildlife-conservation-trust-4944119/, Nov 2017

Study Damming rivers impacts fish diversity A new study has found that dams and other barriers across rivers in the Western Ghats do affect fish species and their recovery downstream. However, barrier-free tributaries that drain in to these rivers can help fish recover even in dammed stretches; protecting such tributaries could be crucial to maintaining fish diversity in the Western Ghats. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/damming-river-water-impacts-fish-diversity/article19140868.ece, July 2017

DRP 5

Goa Fishermen reject plans to make Goa a coal hub It seems to be a national record of sorts. A series of environmental clearance-related public hearings held in Goa last week on whether the administration should permit the construction of facilities to allow large amounts of coal to be imported and transported through the coastal state, took eight days to complete after being extended by an unprecedented five days. The hearings are probably the longest in the history of environmental clearances in India. Amazing that Nitin Gadkari opposed the public hearing, and good to know that SC overturned that decision and now so many people came forward to puncture holes in the fraudulent WAPCOS EIA and Public hearing was extended to record eight days. Among other impacts, the project will also affect the fisheries in Goa. https://scroll.in/article/837111/fishers-grandmas-students-priests-politicians-and-activists-reject-plans-to-make-goa-a-coal-hub, May 2017

Is Goa CM misguiding the people? So Goa accepts nationalisation of rivers and claims that the state will continue to have rights over rivers only because of MOU with IWAI. This seems misleading and preposterous. Good to see interesting discussion though: Participating in the discussion, Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro stated that “The Act of Parliament is a monstrous. It just cannot be accepted”. The MLA said that if the sole objective of nationalisation is to develop the inland waterways then it should be done by protecting the ecology, flora and fauna. But you can do that only if you are doing credible impact assessment and public consultation process. NCP MLA Churchill Alemao brought to the notice of the House that in Calcutta, the State Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has objected to nationalisation of rivers and declined to hand over the rivers. “Rivers are gift of God and it is our duty to protect it,” he stated. The Chief Minister informed the House that National Institute of Oceanography has been asked to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment study of the project, after which the MoU will be signed. He assured that the MoU draft would be presented to all MLAs for their views, before signing. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Fishing-communities%E2%80%99-rights-to-be-protected-after-river-nationalisation-CM/118236.html, August 2017

Fishermen ask govt to consult them before signing pact on rivers The state govt should consult all 25 fishing unions and Goa’s fishermen before signing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Mandovi, Zuari, Mapusa, Chapora, Sal and Cumbharjua rivers between Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the Goa govt and Mormugao Port Trust (MPT). Nationalization of stretches of these rivers is likely to cause further destruction of Goa as almost 410-km long stretch will be dredged to bring in bigger size vessels for larger cargo. Annual dredging will be carried out to maintain the channel, which will occupy at least 280 m out of 500-800m of rivers. As per fishermen union this will affect fishermen’s activities and may displace them in 47 inland fishing villages. The dredging will create disturbance to aquatic ecosystems. The soil deposits in any water-body have a certain pre-disposed composition. The Goan fishermen are planning to take up this matter with the central govt and at the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) at the 7th general assembly of World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) to be held at New Delhi in November, 2017. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/consult-us-before-signing-pact-on-rivers-fishermen-to-state-govt/articleshow/60182367.cms, Aug 2017

Govt to cut fishermen subsidy The state govt is considering transferring a part of fuel subsidy of fishermen to consumers in order to provide cheaper fish to people. As per Fisheries Minister Vinod Palyekar despite subsidy to the tune of Rs 108 crore in the last five years, Goans do not get fish at affordable rates in the local markets, as a major part of the fish catch is being exported. http://www.navhindtimes.in/palyekar-mulling-cut-in-fishermen-subsidy-to-provide-cheaper-fish/, Oct 2017

A vendor sits waiting for customers at the Margoa wholesale fish market in Goa (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pollution, over fishing led to fish famine In a 2010 research paper, Ingole, Goa’s leading marine biologist, had warned the govt of a fish famine situation. He had also added that the local favourite Mackerel would be the first to leave the Goan waters of the Arabian Sea.

– The state fisheries department reports a three-fold decline in Mackerel catch between 2013 and 2016. Similarly, the catch of sardines has fallen from 80,849 tons in 2014 to less than 7,000 tons in 2016. Other species of such as cuttle fish and silver belly have also shown a sharp drop in haul.

– Other coastal states Maharashtra and Karnataka also reportedly facing fish famine.

– Goa exported fish worth around Rs 600 crore last year, 40 tons exported on daily basis.

– The fishing community blames exporters and middlemen for their woes. But for all sections, the real worry is the fast-declining catch of fish.

– The crisis has reached such proportions that Goa’s fisheries minister Vinod Paliencar on Oct 30 promised a ban on fish exports. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/fish-famine-puts-goans-in-a-curry-over-export-ban/story-yAjn3fH9QBJnyp8tQWqrjI.html

Very recently Goa Fisheries Minister decided to divert fishermen subsidies to Fisheries Corporation http://englishnews.thegoan.net/story.php?id=37910, Nov 2017

villages reiterate opposition to river nationalisation In a meeting in Salcete on Nov 12, 4 Gram Sabhas of Raia, Guirdolim, Cavelossim and Navelim have unanimously opposed the nationalisation of 6 rivers from Goa and also the proposed development of Mormugao Port as the coal hub of Goa and all infrastructure development associated with that. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/4-villages-reiterate-opposition-to-river-nationalisation-/122519.html, Nov 2017

In another important development, Goa CM tries to wash off his Govt and Central Govt hands on allegation of link between coal mining companies and BJP govt leading to pollution of rivers. His statement seems partial victory for the river protection campaigns but it is sad that like other politicians he also labels experts and environmentalist as outsiders and people with vested interests. http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/goa-has-said-no-to-expansion-of-coal-handling-facility-manohar-parrikar/article20461220.ece, Nov 2017

Meanwhile a group under the banner, ‘Our Rivers Our Rights’ has petitioned PM Modi seeking his immediate intervention to remove all six Goan rivers from the National Waterways Act, 2016, thereby dropping the plan of river nationalization for Goa. https://www.heraldgoa.in/Goa/Group-petitions-PM-to-keep-Goa-out-of-river-nationalisation-project/122426.html, Nov 2017

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Gujarat Fishermen Protesting Against Bhadbhut Dam Oct 08 has been a sad day for Narmada River and thousands of fisherfolk families who will further suffer due to the Rs 4350 Cr Bhadbhut dam on the Narmada river’s mouth on the Bay of Khambhat, of which PM Modi has laid the foundation Stone. However, the project is being opposed by local fishing folks because it would adversely affect over 12000 fisherfolk families, their livelihoods would be destroyed. They were neither consulted, nor was there any impact assessment, nor any question of compensation or rehabilitation. The new dam is claimed for mitigation of the impacts of upstream dams! It will actually store polluted water from urban and industrial areas and further destroy the estuarine ecosystems. Sailing into the river and shouting slogans, the fisherfolk were detained for five-and-a-half hours for demanding that there should not be any damming of the river at Bhadbhut, as they believed, it would destroy their prized catch, hisla, which breeds in brackish waters.  The fishermen in the area have been protesting against the barrage since 2010. Raising these concerns, fishermen took out a boat protest with black flags against the PM laying foundation stone for the Bhadbhut dam in which over 100 boats participated. They all were arrested and released only after PM left. They were denied permission to hold protest walk. Indeed, fishermen have shown amazing courage. The national media unfortunately seems happy to ignore this. https://www.facebook.com/himanshu.thakkar.3979/posts/10155743733788523?pnref=story, http://www.counterview.net/2017/10/fisherfolk-show-black-flags-against.html

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/protesting-fishermen-arrested-as-pm-lays-foundation-of-bhadbhut-barrage-in-gujarat-58846, Oct 2017

Fishermen vow to keep fighting devastating WB project Farmers and fishermen who sued an arm of the World Bank – for funding an Indian power plant they say hurts their livelihoods – have vowed to appeal a U.S. court ruling that the institution has “absolute immunity”. The Indian communities, represented by advocacy Earth Rights International (ERI), had sued the International Finance Corporation over its $450-million loan for a coal-fired plant operated by a Tata Power unit near Mundra, in Gujarat state. http://www.eco-business.com/news/indian-fishermen-vow-to-keep-fighting-devastating-world-bank-project/, Oct 2017

Fish dying of pollution, officials busy in blame game On June 18, 2017, hundreds of dead fish are found floating in Sabarmati riverfront. The number of dead fish was so large that 10 tractors could be filled with them. Now on July 2, 2017, around 400 dead fish were found floating at Ghodasar Lake in Maninagar. But the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board official are blaming each other for the incidents. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/gujarat-scores-of-dead-fish-in-water-bodies-blame-it-on-poisonous-discharge-4751280/, July 2017

Village opposes govt fishing plan This is interesting case in Gujarat HC about a village opposing fishing contract in village pond on religious grounds and is ready to offer compensation for loss, but govt says it is question of livelihood for the poor. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-village-opposes-government-plan-hook-line-and-sinker/articleshow/60418958.cms, Sept 2017

SOUTH ASIA

WFD 1

Pakistan Sindh People March to Protect Indus River In continuation with the PFF’s yearly campaign for the restoration for River Indus and Indus Delta, the PFF has decided to organize Sindh Awami Caravan in the form of a 14-Day long campaign that will start from March 1, 2017 and will culminate on March 14, 2017 in the form of a massive people’s assembly that will be participated by thousands of peoples fishing and peasant communities, civil society members, academia, government officials, media and other stakeholders. The 2017 Sindh Awami Caravan will be carried out under the theme; Protection of our rivers and delta. Taking into consideration the aims and objectives of the Caravan, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has planned to highlight the restoration of rivers in general in the River Indus in particular, the fresh water flow of 35 MAF Kotri downstream, the protection of Indus Delta and provision of fresh water in all the inland fresh water natural lakes. The PFF demands that the natural flow of rivers especially River Indus be restored. https://sandrp.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/sindh-people-march-to-protect-indus-river/ February 2017 

A large number of activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) staged a rally on Tues­day to conclude its week-long march to Hyderabad aimed at marking the Inter­natio­nal Rivers Day. The PFF organised a Sindh Awami Caravan laun­ched from Doolah Darya Khan bridge of Indus River at Thatta-Sujawal on March 7, which culminated outside the local press club. Earlier, PFF vice chairman Mustafa Mirani, Fatima Majeed and hundreds of activists formed a human chain at the dried bed of the Indus near Jamshoro to call for restoration of its flow and revival of the delta. They also performed a ritual to pray for the river while showering rose petals to pay tribute to the waters. https://www.dawn.com/news/1320538, March 2017 

Bangladesh Ban on fishing in Padma, Meghna begins A two-month ban on catching, selling and transportation of all types of fish from the Padma and Meghna rivers began on March 01, 2017 to ensure safe spawning and protect fish resources. The ban will remain in force till April 30. This is indeed a HUGE step Bangladesh has been taking, coupled with provision of foodgrains to fisherfolk. While there must be practical problems, they deserve applause & support for this step. http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2017/03/01/ban-fishing-padma-meghna-begins/, March 2017

Industrial pollution killing fish in Shitalakkhya River Over past 7 years, fishermen of Bandar area of Narayanganj, have been facing hard time for lack of fish in the Shitalakkhya river as pollution has killed fish in the river. Many are now thinking of leaving the occupation and many have already lost due to disappearance of fish in the river. Locals say a large number of unplanned factories were set up on the banks of the Shitalakkhya and those are continuously discharging waste into the river making the water extremely polluted and putting aquatic animals at stake.  http://www.thedailystar.net/city/shitalakkhya-river-pollution-killing-fish-1377625, March 2017

People are eating more fish but getting less nutrition It turns out that, in Bangladesh, local species from capture fisheries are generally much more nutritious than the species being farmed. Capture fisheries in the country are dominated by nearly 300 species of “small indigenous fish”, which are often consumed whole, including head and bones. Nutrition powerhouses, these small fish are rich sources of important micronutrients including iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin A, as well as high-quality protein. Aquaculture, on the other hand, is dominated by a handful of large fish species, both indigenous and exotic. Only the flesh of large fish is normally eaten, which is a rich source of high-quality protein, but generally has lower micronutrient content. As diets have shifted towards more farmed fish, nutrient intakes from fish has declined. And this has serious implications for a country suffering widespread malnutrition. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-04-bangladesh-people-fish-nutrition.html, April 2017

Court jails 15 fishermen over Hilsa ban violation 15 fishermen jailed, fined for defying Hilsa ban. While one feels sad for the fisherman who are generally the poorest of the lot, if this is helping save the fish and the river, that is welcome. http://en.prothom-alo.com/bangladesh/news/161525/15-fishermen-jailed-fined-for-defying-Hilsa-ban As per another news report, Indian fisherman are intruding to catch fish in Bangladesh waters, when fishing is banned by Bangladesh govt. Bangladesh govt has imposed a ban on catching, sales and transportation of hilsa for 22 days from 1 October to October 22 in order to save mother hilsa during the breeding and thus increase national hilsa output. http://en.prothom-alo.com/bangladesh/news/161509/Indian-fishermen-intrude-into-Bangladesh-water, Oct 2017

Bhutan Hydro projects destroying fish habitat As per a new study hydropower dams, road construction and mining along the rivers, extraction of sand from the riverbed and introduction of exotic or alien species pose serious threat to fishes. The study underlines that dams lead to obstruction of fish migration within feeding, spawning and refugee habitats and dam water favours environment for the establishment of other non-native species. The study began in April 2015 and it has surgically implanted 100 fishes, 70 golden and 30 chocolate mahseers, with a radio transmitter so far. The fishes were released in the Drangmechu.Some important points:

  • Fish is one of the least studied and threatened fauna in the country.
  • Fish is protected in Bhutan by the Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995 and Forest and Nature Conservation Rules of Bhutan 2016.
  • There are 104 species of fish recorded in the country so far, of which 93 species are indigenous and 11 species are exotic species.
  • Bhutan ranks 6th in terms of per capita internal freshwater resources with 0.102 million cubic meters including five major and five minor river system stretching about 7,200 km.
  • The Golden and Chocolate mahseers migrate long distances of more than 25kms in two days. The research also showed that not all Mahseers migrate to India in winter.
  • The conservation status of fishes in Bhutan is yet to be evaluated at the national level and most of the information pertaining to conservation status are being adopted by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

http://www.kuenselonline.com/developmental-activities-threaten-fish-habitat/, June 2017

Myanmar Fish Catches in Irrawaddy Delta falling: For many years now Hilsa was coming from Irrawaddy delta of Myanmar in Kolkata’s markets. But predictably, fish catches in the delta are sharply declining due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. At the same time, the decreasing productivity of the Bay of Bengal is also an important factor behind estuarine fisheries decline. http://www.mizzima.com/news-features/myanmar%E2%80%99s-ayeyarwady-delta-sees-decline-fish-stocks-affecting-livelihoods, June 2017

THE REST OF THE WORLD 

Australia Demonstration reaches to restore native fish populations in Australia: Native fish populations in the Murray Darling Basin are currently at or below 10% of pre-European settlement levels. To tackle this, the Native Fish Strategy is an initiative aimed to rehabilitate native fish populations across the basin to 60% by 2054 and to ensure sustainable fish populations and communities throughout the basin. Associated actions include: removing barriers to fish passage; establishing environmental flows; improving water quality and riparian areas; reducing the impact of weeds; monitoring and evaluating river health; encouraging greater community empathy, education and -understanding; and strengthening community collaborations and ownership. https://upperbidgeereach.org.au/, June 2017

STUDIES

For hilsa conservation to protect the livelihood of hilsa fishermen Findings of International Water Association study: Hilsa catch has been declining over the last 30 years in West Bengal and Bangladesh due to overfishing, siltation of river beds, reduced water flow and fragmentation of rivers during dry months.

-A few years ago, the Bangladesh govt took up a slew of measures, including the banning of hilsa fishing during the spawning and breeding seasons. Though the West Bengal fisheries department also subsequently amended their respective inland and marine fisheries laws to implement a ban on hilsa fishing during the spawning and breeding season, the implementation was patchy and hence produced little results.

-One of the major problems of the present day conservation management is that it doesn’t take into consideration the livelihood of traditional hilsa fisherfolk. The study recommends that the livelihood of fishermen and conservation must go hand-in-hand if it has to work. In other words, hilsa conservation needs to go beyond the immediate ecological context. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/copyofbl04ndtvjhilsabl/article9944157.ece, Nov 2017

Green spots seen from the International Space Station are the lights of fishing boats used to attract squid across the Gulf of Thailand (Photograph ISS Nasa)
Green spots seen from the International Space Station are the lights of fishing boats used to attract squid across the Gulf of Thailand. Photograph: ISS/Nasa

Depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone in Bay of Bengal In January 2017 a multinational team of scientists reported an alarming finding – a very large “dead zone” has appeared in the bay. Apart from sulphur-oxidising bacteria and marine worms, few creatures can live in these oxygen-depleted waters. This zone already spans some 60,000 sq km and appears to be growing. The dead zone of the Bay of Bengal is now at a point where a further reduction in its oxygen content could have the effect of stripping the water of nitrogen, a key nutrient. This transition could be triggered either by accretions of pollution or by changes in the monsoons, a predicted effect of global warming. From Amitva Ghosh and Aaron Savio Lobo. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/bay-bengal-depleted-fish-stocks-pollution-climate-change-migration, Jan 2017

Water pollution leading to feminization of male fish The feminization of male fish, as a direct result of water pollution, is a continuing problem. According to researcher Natasha Gilbert, up to 86 per cent of male fish in some areas become female like as a result of exposure to widely-used contraceptives and anti-inflammatory drugs dumped into toilets and sinks. Some of the substances have an impact on fish livers, kidneys and gills. Exposure to some substances causes male fish to develop female anatomy and to produce the egg protein vitellogenin. The resulting fish are known as ‘intersex’. https://www.simcoe.com/opinion-story/7307663-water-pollution-leading-to-feminization-of-male-fish/, May 2017

Fish size shrinking due to climate change As per William Cheung, associate professor at the Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries – fish – as cold-blooded animals cannot regulate their own body temperatures. When their waters get warmer, their metabolism accelerates and they need more oxygen to sustain their body functions. He also says that there is a point where the gills cannot supply enough oxygen for a larger body, so the fish just stops growing larger. According to Daniel Pauly, the study’s lead author, as fish grow into adulthood their demand for oxygen increases because their body mass becomes larger. However, the surface area of the gills — where oxygen is obtained — does not grow at the same pace as the rest of the body. http://www.livemint.com/Science/TcP0G1mhDeF1mVuO004gtO/Fish-size-may-shrink-by-30-due-to-climate-change-study.html, Aug 2017

Indus Dolphins; very few but very threatened British explorers discovered the South Asian river dolphins that inhabited the rivers of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan in the early 19th century. However, the dolphins’ movements were affected when the British began building barrages and dams. The Indus was no exception; work on the barrages commenced in the early 1900s. With India’s independence and the ensuing partition, Pakistan became home to the fragmented river stretches where the Indus river dolphins dwelled. Research shows that as of 2011, around 1,450 individuals remain in Pakistan in five fragmented populations split between six barrages on the Indus, while dolphins in the tributaries of Jhleum, Chenab, Ravi and Sutlej have been completely wiped out. This is a detailed article about the state of Indus Dolphins in India. http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/magazines/conservation/10570-indias-indus-dolphins-very-few-very-threatened.html 

California Positive impact of dam removal on Carmel river system Positive and promising signs of 106 ft-high San Clemente Dam removal (California’s largest dam removal) in 2015 on Carmel River bio diversity and steelhead trout populations. Post-dam removal, Williams has seen a mix of fish at various stages of development, both above and below the site of the dam, which is a positive sign that steelhead populations are on the rebound. After surveying numerous sites along the river multiple times, “there’s no cause for concern, and reason for optimism,” he said. However, the river system is coming back to life. “I’m surprised at how fast the river has responded,” Williams said. At this point, the river is in the process of redesigning itself and it’s “super-exciting” to observe, Chapman said. In 2017, the river has the building blocks for a healthy ecosystem, sediment flows downstream and steelhead can move upstream. “Honestly, the river can build a far better river than we do. It’s so much more complex,” she said. https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/10/30/two-years-after-californias-biggest-dam-removal-fish-rebound Oct 30, 2017

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Dam building, deforestation threatening the diversity of Amazon fish species A paper published in the Journal of Applied Ecology by two Texas A&M University scientists warns of impacts to fisheries and fish diversity, stemming from continued deforestation of the Amazon River.  The paper is titled “Relationships between forest cover and fish diversity in the Amazon River floodplain”. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12967/abstract.

The paper reports findings on relationships between forest cover and fish diversity in the Amazon River floodplains. As per study Amazon, like most major tropical forest areas of the world, is being systematically cleared for agriculture, human habitation and hydropower development. https://today.agrilife.org/2017/11/11/experts-deforestation-threatening-diversity-amazon-fish-species/, Nov 2017

lanka-stick-fishing

Compiled by SANDRP (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

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