Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

WFD 2021: Ten Positive Stories of Fish, Fisheries & Fisherfolks

On occasion of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2021, SANDRP presents account of a few successful stories of fisher folks collective efforts for sustainable fishing, resistance against existing and looming threats. This also highlights some positive initiatives documenting neglected fishing communities and threatened fish diversity. The first part of the WFD 2021 series has put together most of mass fish kill incidents in India during past one year. This second part begins first with top ten success stories and then moves on to other important positive reports and developments.

Meghalaya Fish sanctuaries & community support Meghalaya has 79 fish sanctuaries that support a wide variety of fishes, including the chocolate mahseer and the golden mahseer. Conservation efforts began in 1955 when fishing was prohibited after over-exploitation of resources and received a push in 2012 by the state aquaculture mission under the fisheries department.

The responsibility of managing the fish sanctuaries falls solely on the local community, who take their role seriously and levy a heavy fine on defaulters. The sustainable fishing plan has helped people get a bigger catch in the areas where fishing is allowed. Eco-tourism also draws revenue, boosting the socio-economic condition of the local communities. https://vikalpsangam.org/article/fish-sanctuaries-and-community-support-for-conservation-of-meghalayas-mahseer/  (10 Aug. 2021)

For a detailed blog on Meghalaya Fishery Sanctuaries by SANDRP, see: https://sandrp.in/2018/12/03/magic-mahseer-of-meghalaya/.

West Bengal Making money from sewage in Kolkata This remarkable piece written by KLI alum Amitangshu Acharya and Sudipto Sanyal charts Kolkata’s Black Gold, which is how many locals see this urban sewage, as it courses through canals and pipes and stitches together land and labor.  Their story of the East Kolkata Wetlands emerges through the eyes and the voices of those who work in them – a man who repairs fish nets, a woman who chases away cormorants by day and fish thieves at night, and laborers working in fish farms who are engaged in a prolonged struggle against a land mafia that is slowly eating away at a living ecological heritage. The narrative is interwoven with the ecological and engineering history of the East Kolkata Wetlands, an urban ecosystem whose very existence tells us that cities can be imagined differently. https://kli.ac.at/en/the_kli/news/view/245  (18 Jan. 2021)

Maharashtra Online exhibition archives oral histories of Kolis Aarushi Agrawal Mumbai’s coastal ecosystem, just a few decades ago, consisted of lush greenery and dense mangroves, clean water for the most part, and sandy and healthy beaches. The Kolis’ boats dotted the sea as they brought back abundant fish to sustain themselves, which they dried and cut along the coast. Today, their chatter and bustle have been greatly affected by climate change, development, and the resultant ecological destruction.

Image credit: Sadashiv Raje (1982) This fishermen community has been practicing this occupation for more than seven to eight generations. With the growing urbanisation, the younger generations are setting their feet out in the world for better opportunities.
The photo shares a heart warming relation between the grandfather and the grandson, where the younger one is putting in all efforts to learn about their traditional family occupational values without any fear. (First Post)

Mangroves are being indiscriminately cut down under the guise of development. Plastic blankets beaches and water bodies, polluting the environment and throwing off a long-sustained ecological balance. And creeks, where fresh water from the rivers meets the sea, which were once breeding grounds for fish, today witness an alarming loss of marine life due to pollution. https://www.firstpost.com/long-reads/online-exhibition-archives-oral-histories-of-the-kolis-degradation-of-mumbais-coastal-ecology-9908841.html  (29 Aug. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Small victory for Ennore fisherfolk In a small victory for Ennore fishermen, TANGEDCO began removing dredged mud and ash dumped in the Kosasthalaiyar and the backwaters. They moved court for an order to remove the material dumped in the last six months. A. Desingu of Kattukuppam said that after several protests against the dumping, they had no option but to go to court. “By completely blocking water flow, they have spoilt our livelihoods. They are constructing the coal belt conveyor across the river. They have built piles inside the river in locations where they have not obtained permission,” he said.

Around 8,000 families from eight villages, including Mugadhwarakuppam, Nettukuppam, Ennorekuppam, Thalangkuppam and Sivanpadaiveedukuppam, depend on fishing in the waterbodies. “It took them six months to dump the stuff and they would need more time to clear it,” he said. A senior official of Tangedco said the sand dumped for developing a temporary road for constructing bridges to carry the coal conveyor belt was being removed, as Electricity Minister V. Senthilbalaji had directed officials to study the possibility of utilising the bridges of the coal conveyor belt already under operation for the north Chennai thermal power stations. The official also pointed out that all construction activities under the two projects, including Ennore SEZ and NCTPS Stage 3, have been stopped temporarily. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/a-small-victory-for-ennore-fisherfolk/article35867487.ece  (12 Aug. 2021)

Kerala Radio Monsoon project provides crucial weather updates to fisherfolk Radio Monsoon, a project run by UK’s University of Sussex, provides weather information gathered in association with various weather forecasting agencies and climate scientists. The traditional knowledge of the local fishermen is also considered for the forecast in the case of extreme weather deviations. Radio Monsoon has been a part of the lives of the fisherfolk in Thiruvananthapuram for the past four years.

“We never used to get any of the alerts sent by the government. Earlier one of us would read the newspaper and tell everyone if there were any deviations from the normal weather. With Radio Monsoon, now we know the direction of the wind, whether it is in a western or eastern direction, and the wind speed. We would then keep away from that direction to be safe,” Alphonse says. “With the Radio Monsoon alerts, we now have information on how many kilometres we can venture off the coast into the sea,” says Dennis, who is a native of Karimkulam.

Radio Monsoon prepares the daily weather forecast using predictions from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), INCOIS (Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services), NCMRWF (National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting), the Kerala Disaster Management Authority, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras. It also uses inputs from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Radio Monsoon began in 2014 as a part of an innovation project of the University of Sussex. By 2018, it began providing weather alerts for fisherfolk. Apart from the WhatsApp group, the alerts are regularly published on the Radio Monsoon website as an audio message, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. However, communication is mostly through the phone number provided on the website which fisherfolk can call to get information on the daily weather conditions. “On an average, we get 100-150 calls per day from fishermen based in the coastal regions of Thiruvananthapuram. There is a gap in the forecast provided by government agencies in reaching the fishermen,” Sindhu Mariya Napoleon, weather reporter and Radio Monsoon Station Manager, tells TNM.

The project aims to upgrade Radio Monsoon as a radio station for the coastal people, and for this, various storytelling segments have been added to its website. Radio Monsoon now has segments on INCOIS Maps, in which people can listen to weather predictions for the coming week and learn about traditions and unknown stories from the coastal region. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/radio-monsoon-project-provides-crucial-weather-updates-fisherfolk-kerala-150660  (14 June 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Godavari, Krishna estuaries provide a safe ground for Turtles The wildlife management authorities in Krishna and Godavari estuaries prepared the ground for safe nesting of Olive Ridley turtles (lepidochelys olivacea) that arrive on the Andhra coast for annual breeding in the winter. The turtle eggs are being conserved in ‘in-situ’ method (in natural habitats) in the Godavari estuary and ‘ex-situ’ method (outside natural habitats) in the Krishna estuary with the involvement of fisherfolk and Yanadi tribe people. The 25 km coastal stretch between Hope Island and Sacramento Island in the Godavari estuary on the Kakinada coast remains a safe habitat for the turtles, and their eggs are protected by the wildlife management staff and local fisherfolk.

In Krishna estuary, the coastline between the two confluence points of the Krishna river into the sea at Hamsaladeevi and Nagayalanka Lighthouse is the prime breeding ground for the turtles. The eggs are collected from the ground and conserved in rookeries. Last winter, nearly 30,000 eggs were collected and at least 29,000 hatchlings were released into the sea. “We continue to prefer the ex-situ method of conservation of turtle eggs as wild boars and jackals remain the prime predators in the sanctuary. However, the Yanadi tribals monitor the breeding ground round the clock till the hatchlings are released into the sea,” she explains. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/godavari-krishna-estuaries-provide-a-safe-ground/article33156092.ece  (23 Nov. 2020)

UN Recognition 41 Indian women recognised as ‘water champions’ by UN body Of the 41 women felicitated by UNDP Das, Kaur and Jugoda Das, another community worker in Lakhimpur district in Assam, have been trained by Oxfam India under its TROSA (Transboundary Rivers of South Asia) project. This project runs in the poorest of the riparian communities in Saralbhanga, lower Brahmaputra and Sharda river basins spread across India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. Its objective is to reduce poverty by increasing communities’ access and control over riverine water resources. “We work with fisher folk, boat operators, farmers dependent on these rivers and even industries that use this water in 65 villages in India,” said Shobhit Chepe, lead consultant, TROSA. The project which is funded by the Swedish government has empowered women with the knowledge of their rights and entitlements related to water.

Aruna Das, a 44-year-old farmer and a water activist-conservationist in Amtula village in the Lakhimpur district of Assam is one of the water champion who have raised awareness around water and improved access to it. Das learnt the importance of water conservation the hard way. Her village is located in a flood-prone area. In 2017, a flood caused by a dam upstream destroyed everything in her village – property, cattle, crops. It contaminated their drinking water and dumped sand in the fields leaving them uncultivable. With help from People’s Action for Development, an NGO and a partner of Oxfam India, Das learnt about water conservation and management. She brought women in her village together and raised her voice on the issue and ensured the successful completion of the construction of the river embankment. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/41-indian-women-recognised-as-water-champions-by-un-body/articleshow/84234829.cms  (10 July 2021)

Inland Fisheris Alliance Inland fisheries: Better management can’t wait There is ample evidence that freshwater fish make significant contributions to people’s diets and livelihoods around the world, yet the often-incomplete numbers have failed to attract the attention of national or international decision makers. The value of inland fisheries are little known to the Western media and general public, and we often use terms like “hidden harvests” and “forgotten fish” when we talk about them. With their value unrecognized, they are inadequately included in plans to use inland waters for other purposes, such as domestic, industrial and recreational water use, irrigation, energy, or waste-disposal. Similarly, they are often overlooked in global sustainability policy, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

A group of organizations is coming together under a new Inland Fisheries Alliance to tackle this challenge — to catalyze efforts to improve the health and management of inland fisheries and the ecosystems upon which they depend, improve measurement of those fisheries and, crucially, shine a spotlight on the importance of these fisheries for both people and nature.

Despite these impressive numbers, development decisions that affect the health of watersheds and their freshwater ecosystems are routinely made without adequate consideration of their impacts on inland fisheries. In fact, 90% of global freshwater fish catch comes from river basins with above-average stress levels. https://inlandfisheriesalliance.medium.com/inland-fisheries-better-management-cant-wait-78e235f9693d  (02 Feb. 2021)

Indigenous Fisherman of South India Mapping India’s indigenous land Indigenous fishermen in southern India have been taking care of their land generation after generation. And yet, they often don’t possess legal ownership. It leaves them open to land grabbing. But an activist is helping them secure their rights. https://www.dw.com/en/mapping-indias-indigenous-land/av-55580782  (13 Nov. 2020)

India Rivers Week 2021 India Rivers Forum (IRF) has been organizing the unique event India Rivers Week (IRW) with exclusive focus on India’s Rivers since 2014. The theme for 2021 (online) “Healthy Rivers, Fish and Fishers” is being deliberated through five webinars. Three sessions of the series have been held covering the topic of Polluted Rivers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGFINL_gIuU), Captive Rivers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOfD7KJdj3k), Science, Data & Advocacy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef8gFr0HBx4). The you tube video recordings of these sessions are given above.

Other Relevant Positive Reports

Collective Efforts  

Tamil Nadu Local fishers refuse to give up hope  Muthupet forest is the only place in the country where a unique “canal fishing” is practised, that serves the dual purpose of providing livelihood for local fishers and keep mangroves in good health. There are about 120 natural canals and 79 man-made fishing canals, each measuring 500 metres to 4 km. These were dug about a couple hundred years ago. M Shankar (50), a fourth-generation fisherman and the president of Village Forest Council in Maravakkadu, said that out of these 200 canals, only 15 to 20 were functional currently, and that all others had filled up with silt.

“Gaja cyclone turned the entire Muthupet forest into a graveyard. Besides uprooting trees, the storm covered all the canals with 3-foot-deep silt. To revive the forest, these 200 canals have to be desilted and we will not let our forest die,” said Shankar. For the past 25 years, Shankar has been mobilising his community to carry out mangrove plantation on 5,000 hectares, with the help of the forest department.

Shankar and his community have so far dug 3,000 feeder canals, which bring water into the degraded areas and help regeneration of mangroves. In Palanjur and Thamarankottai reserve forest, there is still healthy mangrove-cover, thanks to his efforts. Now, these canals are also covered in silt. A Madurai-based NGO, Dhan Foundation, has come forward to desilt at least 50 canals. T Asaithampi, coordinator of Coastal Conservation and Livlihood Development Programme, said the foundation has plans to pump in Rs 5 crore for canal desilting. https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil-nadu/2021/feb/09/savemuthupetmangroves-local-fishers-refuse-to-give-up-hope-2261439.html  (09 Feb. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Conservation of water commons through community fishery The Changariya village institution collectively framed rules for the governance and management of these water commons. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/conservation-water-commons-through-community-fishery  (18 April 2021)

Maharashtra Returning to traditional practices to save ‘Lake District’ The 300-year-old lakes of Bhandara face two prominent problems among others: proliferation of invasive species of fish leading to decrease in local species and habitat destruction. A bird-enthusiast turned development worker, an older Dheevar (fisherfolk community) and a gutsy young woman from the same community have fallen back on traditional wisdom and encouraged local participation to safeguard their livelihood.

The triumvirate of Malgujari lake conservation in eastern Vidarbha has not just rejuvenated over five dozen lakes and water bodies in Bhandara and Gondia districts but have also given a new hope to the local community, especially the women, of a dignified life. https://india.mongabay.com/2020/12/returning-to-traditional-practices-to-save-vidarbhas-lake-district/  (16 Dec. 2020)

Karnataka Jakkur lake sets an example for inclusive rejuvenation projects Jakkur Lake in north Bengaluru has received many accolades for creating and sustaining the rejuvenation and conservation initiative. The lake supports and provides livelihoods for 70 fishermen families and their role has been crucial to the success of the lake rejuvenation project. Jockim, a fisherman, and other members of his community rue the general attitude to keep local communities out of conservation plans and not recognise their contribution. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/04/the-story-of-jakkur-lake-sets-an-example-for-inclusive-rejuvenation-projects/  (05 April 2021) 

Kerala Tales from Velimeen land A key aspect of local knowledge about ecology is that there is recognition of differences between at least three species of mahseer. The hump-backed mahseer, called velimeen by the Mullukuruma, is considered to be the native fish. The deeper-bodied Tor khudree, called neela vannal or kuyil meen, has only been appearing in recent decades and then there is a third with a more intriguing name. It is called varayan velimeen, of which more later.

Ikkiri: copyright http://www.thetapstories.com (Mahseer Trust)

Symbiosis between fish of different species is another amazing piece of knowledge brought forward by the Mullukuruma fishers and deserving of more detailed study. They say that Hypselobarbus micropogon, the Endangered Korhi or pink carp, moves and cleans stones in mahseer spawning grounds. When the mahseer move in to spawn, the pink carp take advantage of a feast of eggs. The locals call the pink carp kallunthi, from kallu for pebbles and unthu,  the verb meaning to push. https://www.mahseertrust.org/post/tales-from-velimeen-land  (20 Aug. 2021)

Struggle and Resistance

Tamil Nadu Community’s efforts to save Pulicat lake continues From restoring mangroves to fighting off worm poachers, people living around Pulicat have been making efforts over years to save their wetlands and their livelihoods. Meerasa, who lives in Jameelabad near the lake, has been involved in conservation of the lake and raising awareness about the ecosystem for almost two decades now. The region faces a looming threat from the Kattupalli mega port expansion plan that could severely impact the wetland, its mangroves and marine life and result in displacement and loss of livelihood of many fishing families dependent on Pulicat lake. https://india.mongabay.com/2021/02/as-threats-increase-communitys-efforts-to-save-pulicat-lake-continues/  (04 Jan. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh When a sacred river offers shelter, livelihood to 4 families  For nearly two decades, the sacred river Sabari and a group of four migrant fisherfolk families have remained steadfast companions near Chintoor village along the tri-State border of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh in East Godavari Agency. The strong survival skills of the fisherfolk motivated them to make the river their permanent home by developing a tiny settlement by it.

Migrating from Dowleswaram village in the Godavari delta in early 2000, the four families decided to make a living by taking up fishing in the Sabari, and are operating four houseboats in which they live as well as fish on the tri-State border. Their habitat now comprises four house boats, four temporary houses on the sands of the river, where four families with 25 people have settled, eking out a livelihood by fishing in the river. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/companions-of-the-sacred-sabari-on-tri-state-border/article33475225.ece  (01 Jan. 2021)

Women Fishers

The survival of many fisher households living nearby is entirely dependent on Wular lake. (Image: Manju Rawat/India Water Portal)

Jammu & Kashmir Unsung women fishers of Wular lake Fisherwomen’s experiences and perspectives about their livelihoods based on the Wular lake. https://www.indiawaterportal.org/article/unsung-women-fishers-wular-lake-0  (02 Jan. 2021)

Jharkhand Boat fisherwomen of Ranchi Story of how women in Ranchi have taken up risky boat fishing work a male dominated occupation to earn livelihoods. https://en.gaonconnection.com/she-is-a-mother-who-courts-choppy-waves-everyday-just-for-her-children/  (9 May 2020)

Initiatives

Tamil Nadu Indian island radio station leading climate conversations Started by businessman Armstrong Fernando, himself from a fishing family, Kadal Osai (“the sound of the ocean” in Tamil) began in August 2016 with just a few hours of transmission daily, before going full-time in 2019. Alongside updates on weather, marine affairs and fish prices, advice on safe and sustainable fishing and the preservation of coral reefs, the station also conducts on and off-air workshops on the climate crisis and biodiversity.

“It has become increasingly difficult to predict and interpret water levels in the ocean, cyclone formations, and potential fishing zones. The erratic weather patterns have led to an unprecedented rise in sea levels as well as the height of the waves, thus affecting many seaweed cultivating sites,” says Rajan. “In such a scenario, tapping into the traditional knowledge of the fishing community, remains a rich source of learning.” Understanding this need to share knowledge with the next generation, Kadal Osai invites experienced fishers to talk with experts about the effects of over-exploitation on marine resources, and the importance of integrating traditional and modern fishing methods. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jan/07/making-waves-the-hit-indian-island-radio-station-leading-climate-conversations  (07 Jan. 2021)

Documentary Moving Upstream Ganga The documentary by Siddharath Agarwal of Veditum covers the riverside stories of farmers, fishermen, boatmen, small-time hawkers & priests. Then there are stories of villagers with their houses and sometimes even entire village lost to eroding banks or drowned behind huge dams and many more. https://thedialogue.co.in/article/AqTSxn0VM8thnP0FhF9C/iit-graduate-walked-upstream-ganga-for-10-months-to-make-this-film  (04 March 2021)

New Fish Species

West Bengal New species of snake eel found Researchers have discovered a new species of snake eel from the ports of Paradip in Odisha and Petuaghat harbour along the Bay of Bengal. The genus of the species is Cirrhimuraena. It is part of the Ophichthidae family of snake eels and its order is Anguilliformes.

The researchers found six specimens of the new species from Paradip, while two others were found from Petuaghat harbour in October 2019 and January 2020 respectively. They concluded that the new species belonged to the same clade as Cirrhimuraena chinensis and was separated from it morphologically and genetically. Cirrhimuraena chinensis is a tropical, marine eel that is known from China and Papua New Guinea, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The scientists have proposed the name of the new species as ‘Indian fringe-lip eel’ or Cirrhimuraena indica. It was the second new fish species discovered by researchers from the Odisha coast in the past two years. In 2018, researchers led by Mohapatra of ZSI, Gopalpur, had found a new species of moray eel — a snake-like fish from the Bay of Bengal at Gopalpur-on Sea — a fishing town in Odisha’s Ganjam district. The scientists named the species as Odishi moray (scientifically named Gymnothorax odishi) as it was first sighted in Odisha. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/new-species-of-snake-eel-found-in-bay-of-bengal-by-researchers-75352  (03 Feb. 2021)

New freshwater fish identified in Ganga Researchers from Kerala and West Bengal have identified a new species of freshwater fish from the Ganga in West Bengal. The fish, which is edible, has been christened Systomus gracilus for its thin and compressed body. ‘Gracilus’ means slim in Latin. This fish can be cultured in inland waterbodies.

The fish was discovered, scientifically named, and described by Mathews Plamoottil, Head of Zoology Department, Government College, Chavara, Kollam, and Debargya Maji, an young researcher with the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Kolkata. The latest issue of Journal of Experimental Zoology has published an article on the discovery.

The fish, which has a light reddish-white body and fins, was discovered from Naihati, West Bengal. Systomus is a genus in the family Cyprinidae. Systomus gracilus can be distinguished from other species of the genus by its high and strongly compressed body, tiny barbels, and anal fin with six branched rays. The collected specimens were of 11 to 12 cm in length.  https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/new-freshwater-fish-identified-in-the-ganga/article32482185.ece  (30 Aug. 2020)

Meghalaya Newly discovered fish species named after a local youth Meghalaya boosted its name as a key area for biodiversity conservation because of its high species diversity, which led to the discovery of a new species of Channa, a genus of predatory fish in the family Channidae, commonly known as snakehead (locally known as Dohthli), native to freshwater habitats in Asia.

This species of Channa is named ‘Channa aristonei’ after a Shillong-based freshwater enthusiast and former MMA fighter Aristone M. Ryndongsngi, who also holds a degree in Fisheries Science from St Anthony’s College, Shillong. Ryndongsngi discovered the species in 2017 when he accidentally collected the new species, thinking that it is Channa pardalis, and was trying to find the habitat of this snakehead species, discovered from West Khasi Hills in 2016. https://www.thenortheasttoday.com/current-affairs/states/meghalaya/newly-discovered-fish-species-in-meghalaya-named-after-a-local-youth-2  (27 Dec. 2020)

Telangana New fish species found in Kawal Tiger Reserve A new fish species discovered in the hill stream area of Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) is among the first vertebrates to bear the name of Telangana. Called Indoreonectes Telanganaensis, the new species of loach, is distinguished by pectoral fins as long as the head, large eyes, nasal barbel reaching the middle of the eye and a number of other distinguishing features.

“The hill stream is seasonal and is part of the Godavari river basin but does not flow into the main river directly. It was discovered there,” informed Srinivasulu Chelmala, the corresponding author of the paper published in Zootaxa, a peer-reviewed scientific journal for taxonomists. The researchers backed up their claim for the new species with DNA analysis information.

Clown loaches with their interesting golden-yellow and black patterns are a favourite of aquarists who keep ornamental fish. Clown loaches are native to the inland water systems in South East Asia. While clown loaches have shorter bodies and pinkish fins and tails, the loach discovered in Telangana is a little less colourful and has a longer body with bands of black. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/new-fish-species-found-in-kawal-tiger-reserve/article33097515.ece  (14 Nov. 2020)

Maharashtra Threatened species found in Western Ghats According to WWF India, 50 per cent of India’s amphibians and 67 per cent of fish species are endemic to this region. Endemism refers to any species which is exclusively confined to a particular geographical area and occurs nowhere else in the world. Here is a list of a few threatened species that are found in North Western Ghats, Maharashtra: https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/science/international-biodiversity-day-threatened-species-found-in-north-western-ghats/2256958/  (22 May 2021)

South Asia             

Bangladesh Halda River declared Bangabandhu Fisheries Heritage The government has declared the Halda River as Bangabandhu Fisheries Heritage. The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock issued a circular about this on Thursday. In the circular, the ministry declared the Halda River and 23,422 acres of land adjoining its banks as Bangabandhu Fisheries Heritage. The declaration will help protect the fish and environment of the Halda River. With the declaration of Bangabandhu Fisheries Heritage, 12 restrictions will be applicable there and those include :

– Nobody can catch fishes the Halda River

– People can only collect eggs in the Halda River during the season under the supervision of fisheries department

– None can hamper the bio-diversity of the Halda River

– Nobody can pollute the Halda River

– Nobody can discharge any garbage into the Halda River

– Nobody can change the natural navigation of the Halda River

– None can catch fishes from 17 canals of the Halda River during the brooding season

– No dam can be set up on the Halda River

– No project will be taken to collect water from the Halda River

– No engine boats can run through the Halda River during the brooding season

– The river can be used only for research work.

Halda is the only river in the country where fishermen can collect fertilised eggs from the river bed and arrange for them to hatch later on, whereas only hatched fish fries (young fish) – and not fertilised eggs – can be caught in other rivers. Halda is one of the most important rivers in Bangladesh for the fishing industry because of its once abundant supply of eggs of freshwater fish such as carp, rohu, katla, mrigal etc., and conditions suitable for the brood (egg-laying).

Image: The Financial Express

When the British ruled the subcontinent, Halda fish eggs would be supplied to then Burma and other parts of India. In the 1960s and 70s, two-thirds of the ponds in Bangladesh would use spawn from the Halda River. The Halda River flows through Raozan, Hathazari and Fatikchhari in Chattogram. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/halda-river-declared-bangabandhu-fisheries-heritage-1608870392  (25 Dec. 2020)

Creating hilsa-friendly reserves This year’s 22-day ban on catching and selling hilsa yielded more fruitful results compared to the previous years’. Beginning on October 4, the ban ended on October 25. Since its start in 2008-09, the countrywide ban on catching and marketing the national fish has been proving progressively effectual. In the beginning period 12 -13 years ago, the government ban enforced in a few hilsa producing districts was met with large-scale non-compliance. The fishermen, on instigation by a section of businesses and middlemen, vehemently protested the government directive.

During the initial bans of varying lengths, the hilsa became a centre of agitation and wild speculations, which later proved baseless. Thanks to the relentless stance taken by the authorities concerned the ban started taking hold finally. The prohibition on catching mother hilsas, which swim upstream from the Bay of Bengal, and the country’s southern rivers, resulted in the continued increase in the full-grown fish populations. It is true the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry couldn’t promptly provide the hilsa catchers with their promised emergency food and monetary reliefs; but they eventually became a part of the system. https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/editorial/creating-hilsa-friendly-reserves-1635697247  (02 Nov 2021)

Pakistan Rights of the River & personhood rights of Indus delta Pakistan Fisherfolk forum (PFF) has planned to celebrate the international Day of Action (14 March) for rivers “Rights of the Indus River” with 14-days long campaign named as of Rights of the River and personhood rights to Indus River and Indus delta. In this connection PFF decided to organized a series of the dialogues in the different district of Sindh during the Rights of the River Campaign. After these dialogue PFF, will held a Provincial Dialogue in Karachi in which PFF will raise issues collected from district level. In the provincial dialogue, impacted communities from all over the Sindh will participate and demand for the Rights of the River and legal personhood rights of Indus delta. https://dc.icsf.net/en/component/dcnews/articledetail/18484.html   (10 March 2021)

Rest of the World

USA Fight to save Salmon FASCINATING: “Today, the salmon in the waters around Lapwai are endangered. A network of hydropower dams built with federal funds between 1934 and 1984, coupled with warming temperatures and changing ocean chemistry, are sending Idaho’s wild salmon rapidly toward extinction. Only 20% of the salmon that swim above the dams are wild—fish that reproduce in cool mountain streambeds and not in the concrete tanks of a hatchery—and there is growing concern among fish biologists that they will be gone in a decade. As the dams have gone up, tribes have demanded protections for fish. In the creation story passed down from generation to generation among the Nez Perce, the salmon in these waters used to speak, but they gave their voices to humans. “Now,” says Wheeler, the tribe’s vice chairman, “we need to speak for the fish.””

– “Nearly 2,500 miles east, an unlikely coalition has come together in Washington, D.C., to do exactly that. The Nez Perce and 14 other Pacific Northwest tribal nations have joined forces with U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson (R., Idaho), the National Congress of American Indians, sports-fishing enthusiasts and river conservationists in a long-shot bid to convince President Joe Biden and lawmakers to step in and breach four hydropower dams on the Snake River, easing the path for wild salmon to make the 1,600-mile round trip from Idaho’s glacier-fed mountain streams to the Pacific Ocean and back.” https://time.com/6105484/pacific-salmon-endangered-washington/  (18 Oct. 2021)

Research Collective movements can stabilize ecosystems Schools of herring, herds of wildebeest and countless other groups of organisms that act in concert can help complex ecosystems maintain their diversity and stability, new research by Oregon State University shows. Published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, the study demonstrates that when individuals band together to consume resources as a collective group, the surrounding ecosystem is prone to be more resilient and able to support a wider range of species. https://phys.org/news/2021-08-flocking-birds-schooling-fish-movements.html  (12 Aug. 2021)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

You may also like to see:-

Inland Fish, Fisheries, Fisher-folks: 2020 Overview

World Fisheries Day 2019: Fish, Fisheries Update from India

WFD 2018: River Fish Update from India

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