Fish, Fisheries, Fisherfolk

WFD 2021: Of looming & existing threats on fish & fisherfolks

The fish species, fisheries sector and fisherfolk communities in India and South Asia have been undergoing a whole range of anthropogenic threats, sustainability challenges amid turbulent climatic factors casting a complex and uncertain impacts on the overall wellbeing of their future and survival. As part of World Fisheries Day (WFD) 2021, SANDRP has been tracking the critical issues. In first two parts of three part series we have already put together incidents of mass fish death and positive developments taking place in past one year.

This third and final part of the 2021 series focuses on remarkable ongoing resistance by fisher-folks showing constant struggle and firm determination. The report also covers relevant studies underlining adverse impacts of dams, hydro projects and climate change on freshwater fish and dependent fisherfolks. It has briefs on how impacts of pollution and encroachment of water bodies, mining, coastal zone development, invasive fish, aquaculture is gradually going up along with concerns and efforts to address them. Some of the pro and anti-fish, fisherfolks decisions by central and state govts are also compiled here.  

Impacts of Dams, Hydro Projects

Manipur Importance of protecting Loktak Lake Fisher unions and farming communities observed World Wetlands Day at Tonoma Chingjin, Mamang Ching, Pumlen Pat-a wetland devastated by the Ithai Barrage of the Loktak Hydroelectric Project. (03 Feb. 2021)

Meghalaya Umngot HEP threatens tribals’ lives, livelihoods Once the dam is built upstream, the river downstream will be rendered dry, slowly draining into a watery graveyard for fishes. A report by the SANDRP states the diversion of water through dams has collapsed downstream ecosystems and fisheries in the Krishna, Godavari, Mahanadi, Pennar, Narmada, Tapi, Sabarmati, Mahi, & Cauvery rivers. (6 May 2021)

Bihar Farakka lock & Hilsa An old project to facilitate the movement of hilsa upstream along the Ganga to its spawning grounds of yore may come to fruition this year. In Feb 2019, the govt had unveiled a project to redesign the navigation lock at the Farakka Barrage at a cost of Rs 360 crore to create a “fish pass” for the hilsa.

People flock to buy Hilsa in Maniktala market as the first consignment of Hilsa arrived from Bangladesh in September last year. File/Express photo by Partha Paul 

As of the 2019 plan, the new fish pass on the Ganga was to cover only 8 metres, a fraction of the Ganga’s width at Farakka. It seemed likely that only a small number of hilsa might sneak through, but it was doubtful if the new fish way would allow large shoals of the fish to return to their former spawning grounds further upstream.  (13 Feb. 2021)

Hilsa set to travel upstream Farakka? Pure Propaganda news, possibly floated in view of Bengal elections. With lots of inaccuracies and falsehoods. A new navigation lock is in the making at the Farakka barrage. Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), quoted in the report, is majorly responsible for the failure of the existing fish pass and has abysmally poor track record in its work for inland fish conservation. If the same body is working on the new effort, there is little chance of success.  (31 March 2021) 

Karnataka Mekedatu endangers 4 threatened species The Cauvery valley, the last stretch of the free-flowing mystic river supporting rich fresh water biodiversity including mahseer fish, otters etc. The onus is on Bengaluru citizens to make the administrators accountable for harvesting existing sources of water.  (27 Dec. 2020)

Endemic fish species like the hump-backed mahseer of the Cauvery basin are not even given legal protection.  (24 Aug. 2021)

Madhya Pradesh Declining fisheries in Bargi dam In Bargi dam built on Narmada river, fish production was up to 530 tonnes in the year 1995-96, whereas in the last few years this production has come down to less than 100 tonnes. The livelihood of the fishermen of this entire region is in danger due to low fish production. About three thousand fishermen families have been living from the Bargi reservoir in 54 villages of Jabalpur, Mandla and Seoni districts  (28 June 2021)

Illegal fishing adds to SSP ousted woes Over a decade ago, the traditional fishing community of Barwani lost their homes and cultivable land to Sardar Sarovar Dam’s submergence and now it is facing fresh challenges from ‘outsiders’ involved in illegal fishing activities in the dam’s reservoir. FIR filed.  (19 Aug. 2021)

Sad story of Bargi Dam affected people: There was a ruckus when the fish contractor’s employees beat up the youths who were fishing in the backwaters of Indira Sagar near Kukdhal village and the body of one of them was recovered on Tuesday (Sept. 28).  (29 Sept. 2021)

Polavaram Project Engineers claim to work for passage of Pulasa fish “The CIFRI studied the physiology and behaviour of Pulasa (Hilsa) fish in choosing its path in the river and designed a specialised Fish Ladder Gate to be erected on one of the piers of the spillway to enable the unhindered passage of fish during the season,” the Polavaram chief engineer said. The fish ladder gate is about 252 metres in length and has three vents at various levels of the spillway so that the fish could move freely even if water levels keep changing.  (14 Feb. 2021)

Opinion Himalayan blunders are ravaging ecology By Sanjoy Hazarika Over 300 dams are being built across the Himalaya, including in China. They pose a challenge to the future of the mountains. Hydro-projects mean that rivers are cleaned of their nutrients, critical for fish, dolphins and farmlands, and which are carried largely in soil and sediments in the water; otherwise, soil and stones would damage power-generating turbines. China has announced a mega project on Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, the lifeline of Assam and Bangladesh.  (22 March 2021)

Make hydropower technologies sustainable? Amit Banka No real answers here. Only some general suggestions. The only good thing about the blog is that it does honestly list many (not all) of the adverse impacts of hydropower projects and concludes: “The threatening impact of building large dams nearby villages as well as ecology is no secret…Dams built for hydroelectric power impact rivers and wildlife habitats, displace humans, affect fish populations, and interrupt the natural flow of sediment into river systems…”  (14 June 2021)

Study Nearly 30% reduction in fish species in Ganga in 4 yrs In a worrying trend, there has been a reduction of nearly 30 per cent in the total fish species in the Ganga river between 2016-2020, owing to changes in the hydrological structure due to dam construction, land modification, pollution, industrial effluents and illegal fishing activities, according to CIFRI assessment. The assessment shows that the status of fish being threatened is a major concern nationwide, particularly in the Ganga. From the present study, a total of 104 freshwater fish species were recorded in the river.  (08 Sept. 2021)

Exotic brown trout threatening native Himalayan fish species “The study also flagged the “rampant” damming of the rivers across the Himalayas, saying the presence of dams would definitely obstruct the fish mode of movements to safer havens, ultimately risking their very survival. The study recommends some solutions such as persuasive “conservation efforts beyond political boundaries by combined decisions of the policymakers of Himalayan countries”.  (25 Sept. 2021)

Dams in Western Ghats altering flows & impacting fish The study also examined the fish population in the four rivers and recorded a total of 12,840 fish individuals belonging to 79 species across wet and dry seasons during 2011–2014. Among these, as many as 31 species were endemic to the Western Ghats and found nowhere else. The Tunga and Bhadra rivers come from the headwater region and have more endemic and habitat specialist species than Mhadei and Malaprabha.  (08 Dec. 2020)

Very few of world’s rivers undamaged by humanity Rivers in which fish populations have escaped serious damage from human activities make up just 14% of the world’s river basin area, according to the most comprehensive study to date. Rivers and lakes cover less than 1% of the planet’s surface, but their 17,000 fish species represent a quarter of all vertebrates, as well as providing food for many millions of people. Healthy rivers are also needed to supply clean water.

Other recent research has shown that global populations of migratory river fish have plunged by a “catastrophic” 76% since 1970, with a 93% fall in Europe. Large river animals have fared worst, with some like the Mekong giant catfish on the verge of extinction. A 2019 analysis found only a third of the world’s great rivers remained free flowing, due to the impact of dams.  (18 Feb. 2021)

Freshwater fish face existential threats  A third of freshwater fish species could go extinct in the decades ahead unless measures are taken to curb human activities that destroy their habitats, according to a new report by a coalition of 15 non-profits led by the WWF.

The report, titled World’s Forgotten Fishes, says that migratory freshwater fish species have declined by 76% since the 1970s, while “mega fish” — those weighing more than 66 pounds — have plummeted by 94%. Behind this staggering loss of fish are a number of industrial practices that receive little scrutiny relative to their environmental impact, the report found.  (24 Feb. 2021) Much of this decline was driven by the poor state of freshwater habitats in parts of the United Kingdom, with just 14.6 per cent of rivers in England achieving Good Ecological Status in 2020.  (26 Feb. 2021)

International Rivers What does a dam do to rivers; people When a dam is built across a river, blocking its flow, a series of local biological processes is radically changed: fish population perish by lack of food and cannot migrate; turtles are unable to reach the shore to spawn; and subject to an unpredictable rhythm dictated by the hydropower dams, the forest suffer from flow or dry seasons.

Report Rivers, lakes most degraded ecosystems While fresh water makes up less than one percent of Earth’s flowing water, it is home to 10 percent of all known species, including a third of all vertebrates. Among the more unusual freshwater varieties are Africa’s elephant fishes, which communicate through electrical signals, and the Amazon’s spraying characins, which lay their eggs on land. Freshwater systems are also home to around 270 species of turtles, more than 1,300 species of crabs, and around 5,700 species of dragonflies.  (01 March 2021) 

Hydropower dams are not the solution to the climate crisis This article in THE HILL says: The structures ruin ecological habitats by literally standing in the way of fish migration. The reservoirs that dams create raise water temperatures, which in turn reduce oxygen and devastate fish populations. Dams also trap silt and other nutrients, which would otherwise nourish downstream habitats as nature intended. Over two-thirds of all dams in the U.S. have passed or are nearing their expiration date. It’s time we stop throwing good money at bad.  (26 Aug. 2021)

Changing Climate Posing Bigger Challenges

Study 1 in 4 fish species in Narmada & Indus basins will be at risk If global temperatures had the least projected rise of 1.5°C by the end of the century, the warmer waters would affect more than half of the habitat of about 4% of freshwater fish species in the world. But in some major river basins of India, the impact could be greater, putting about 25% of species at risk, the first study on the impact of climate change on freshwater aquatic life has found.  (27 March 2021)

Climate change may cause 26% habitat loss for snow trout Snow trout, the iconic cold water fish species found in Himalayan rivers, would lose their habitat by 16 per cent in the next 30 years and by over 26 per cent by 2070, a new climate change study by the Wildlife Institute of India has found. The study indicates that most of the lower altitude streams across the Himalayas would be rendered unsuitable for the existence of snow trout with the rise in temperatures.  (9 Sep 2020)

“Already exposed to numerous anthropogenic stressors, the fate of snow trout population and many co-occurring genera can be considered explicitly at a higher risk in the Himalaya”, it adds.  (09 Sept. 2021)

Global warming can spell doom for freshwater fish Climate change too is warming river waters and reducing their flows. These changes can spell doom for fish that live in these waters, informs this study titled ‘Threats of global warming to the world’s freshwater fishes’ published in the journal Nature Communications.

Freshwater fish are very sensitive to changes in water temperature. River flows too affect the feeding and reproductive behaviour of many organisms inhabiting the waters. Yet, the impacts of climate change on freshwater fishes have not been studied in detail. This study assesses future climate threats to 11,425 riverine fish species by quantifying their exposure to flow and water temperature extremes under different global warming scenarios.  (24 Sept. 2021)

The violin plots show the proportion of geographic range threatened by future climate extremes for 11,425 freshwater fish species, different warming levels and two dispersal assumptions. For each species and warming level, the mean across the different scenarios (GCM–RCP combinations) is calculated. Within each violin, the white boxes show the interquartile range as well as the median, while diamonds represent the mean. Source data are provided as a Supplementary Data 1.

Threats to freshwater fishes This study represents the first comprehensive assessment of the threat of potential future climate extremes to freshwater fish species, covering both flow and water temperature, the entire globe and about 90% of the known freshwater fish species.  (15 March 2021)

Kerala Climate change taking a toll on livelihoods of small-scale fishers Erratic monsoon patterns and other disruptions by climate change are reducing number of fishing days as well as fishing stock in the waters of coastal Kerala. The income of small-scale fishers in Kerala, who depend on fishing for daily needs, has drastically reduced in recent years. People are quitting fishing and looking for other livelihood options to support their families.   (16 Aug. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Climate change pushes fishermen to take up shell mining jobs.  (06 Nov. 2021)

Arunachal Pradesh Seijosa: Shifting patterns, declining biodiversity The forest in Seijosa, one of the five administrative divisions of the Pakke-Kessang district  has an impressive diversity of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and fish. And climate change and subsequent habitat loss may wipe them off from the area.  (12 Jan. 2021)

Report What will happen to fish as oceans warm? Several species were noted to migrate poleward or to deeper waters to stay in their ideal temperature range. (14 Aug. 2021)

COP 26 Can’t Ignore the Needs of Grassroots Communities If we consider farmers, what does tilling land and food security in drought prone areas look like? With fisherfolk, how does one plan for good fishing practices so that fish species don’t go extinct and impact the long term livelihoods of coastal fishing communities? How do we ensure children get educated when they are made to stay at home because a drought in the region resulted in large family debt, forcing the children to work instead of study? Most of these are not part of any global – or even national – climate conversation, but they are all first-order impacts of climate change which aren’t being solved for.  (30 Oct. 2021)

Response to Climate Change Is Missing Something Big: Scientists Climate change and biodiversity collapse have traditionally been treated as two separate crises. According to scientists on two leading research panels, that’s the wrong way to look at things. A new report says we can’t effectively address either problem without looking at the state of nature as a whole.  (10 June 2021)

Struggle of Coastal Fishers

What Do India’s Fishers Want? In a deep-dive investigation, Supriya Vohra takes a closer look at how the fortunes of India’s small-scale fishers have declined – and who is responsible.  (14 Nov. 2021) Draft National Fisheries Policy seeks big growth but ignores fishers.  (20 July 2020)

Tamil Nadu Ennore-Pulicat wetlands lost 267 ha since 2015: study A report by the Save Ennore Creek Campaign, released on Nov. 19 2020 alleged that several public sector undertakings have encroached on 267 ha of the backwaters belonging to the Kosasthalaiyar river after the 2015 floods. The port had encroached upon 46 ha the letter said, 81 ha had been lost to a coal ash dump for NTECL at Vallur and 40 ha to an oil storage terminal of Bharat Petroleum Corp.

More of the wetlands are likely to be lost for projects including an eight-fold expansion of the port at Kattupalli, which involved the creation of 2,000 acres of land inside the sea, and more than 1,000 acres of land by encroaching on the Ennore-Pulicat wetlands. Speaking at the event to release a copy of the report, Ennore fisherman Ravindran and G. Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal said that if industrialisation was important, it should be carried out on dry land and not on waterbodies.  (20 Nov. 2020)

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.  (04 Jan. 2021)

EAC defers Pulicat lake wall proposal, seeks more details The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) directed a sub-committee to visit the coastal stretch of Pulicat lake where the Dept of Fisheries has proposed 2 training walls for permanent stability for the bar mouth of the lake, and ascertain details about the impact of the project.  (07 Jan. 2021)

Rohan Chakravarty’s Green Humour on Adani dredges Pulicat to expand Kuttapalli Port.  (09 Jan. 2021)

State is not above the law: NGT Southern Bench of the NGT said while hearing a case against the construction of a fish landing centre of the Fisheries Department at Singithurai in Thoothukudi. The report of a joint committee, which was submitted to the NGT, pointed to the violations in the construction of the fish landing centre in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area without the necessary clearance under the CRZ Notification, 2011, and also in the laying of a concrete road, which was prohibited in the location.

It directed the State Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA) to submit an action-taken report on the basis of the recommendations made by the joint committee. If the State authorities were not taking action, the regional office of the MoEF in Chennai should look into the issue and take action.  (10 Jan. 2021)

Adani Port Proposal Makes it to Public Hearing Stage Nityanand Jayaraman deep-dives into the proposal and its ramifications: Set to come up on wetlands and ecologically fragile sand dunes on the Kattupalli Barrier island near the Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary, the company’s proposal for a megaport is illegal on several counts. By falsifying vital information and suppressing other critical facts, it has managed to get its proposal past the EAC.

Tamil Nadu SPCB’s announcement to hold a public hearing for the project on Jan 22, 2021, triggered massive outrage among local communities, environmentalists and political parties. Several political parties already condemned the project citing illegalities, threat to livelihoods, increased flood risk and the threat to the sanctuary.  (16 Jan. 2021)

Public hearing deferred The Thiruvallur district administration postponed a public hearing on the revised masterplan submitted by Adani for development of Kattupalli port in order to avoid a gathering in the wake of the Covid pandemic. The company applied for environmental clearance for Rs 4,000-crore port and harbour project that is part of a Rs 53,400-crore masterplan. The Adani group had acquired 97 per cent stake in Kattupalli port, owned by Marine Infrastructure Developer Private Limited, from L&T for Rs 1,950 crore in 2018.  (20 Jan. 2021)

Adani port expansion latest threat to Ennore-Pulicat wetlands As Chennai’s Kattupalli Port seeks environmental clearances for an expansion 17 times its initial size, residents and local communities are raising concerns over the ecologically sensitive Ennore-Pulicat coastal wetlands that the expanded port would sit on. Other concerns also accompany this project—the possibility of more polluting industries being set up near the port, a set of documentary illegalities, and coastal erosion too.  (27 Jan. 2021)

Another detailed report on the issue:- Pointing out that Ennore and Pulicat wetlands are an essential part of the ecosystem, Sunddarajan says, “This is a natural ecosystem and Pulicat is the second largest lagoon in India. The ecosystem helps fish to thrive in both wetland and the seas. Many new species of fish have come to life due to the ecosystem. So, the port expansion will affect the marine ecosystem and it will also lead to loss of livelihood for 1 lakh people.”   (28 Jan. 2021)

Ennore Creek eco-restoration project to begin shortly State govt gave administrative sanction for the project in Jan. 2021. It will be undertaken at an estimated cost of ₹189 crore.  The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust and the Water Resources Department will implement the project over three years. The project is likely to be completed in 2023. The final report of the study on Ennore Creek by the CRRT has been approved. According to the WRD, the sustainable opening of the Ennore creek mouth and building of a training wall is proposed to reduce sedimentation. However, a proposal seeking a permanent solution to sedimentation is awaiting approval and funding from Kamarajar Port Ltd. for two years now.  (31 Jan. 2021)

NGT order proves fraud at highest level: Activists The Save Ennore Creek campaign claimed that the NGT’s order confirmed the allegations by activists and Ennore fishers that the former Director of Environment presented an illegal and unapproved CZMP that deleted entire sections of the river and backwaters to justify industrial take-over of eco-sensitive wetlands.  (24 Feb. 2021) 

Ennore residents protesting against Kattupalli Port expansion project Local fishers, workers in ancillary businesses and environmental activists have been protesting since 2018 against this project, which violates several environmental rules and regulations in the high-erosion area near Ennore. It poses a great threat to their livelihood and the biodiversity of the region, they said.–75894  (11 March 2021)

Residents protesting plan to reduce Pulicat sanctuary buffer zone A new proposal by the Tamil Nadu forest department to reduce the mandatory 10-km eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary near Chennai sparked fresh protests from members of the fishing community, scientists and wildlife experts. If it is allowed, the proposal will smooth the way for the expansion of the Kattupalli port 2.1 km south of Lake Pulicat Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvallur district by the Adani group, activists and fisherfolk say. This will threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.  (01 April 2021)

TANGEDCO destroying Ennore creek Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) is building another ash pipeline from NCTPS Stage-3 to the ash pond. This pipeline also cuts across the Kosasthalaiyar river & tonnes of construction debris are dumped right next to the river for sinking pillars in the waterbody for the pipeline bridge for which there is no CRZ clearance, which is mandatory.   

Meanwhile, in another alleged violation just a few kms from pipeline site, TANGEDCO is building a bridge to carry a coal conveyor belt and seawater from Kamarajar Port to its Ennore SEZ power plant smothering the mangroves and filing large tracts of Ennore creek area allegedly with port’s dredge soil, which is again prohibited.  (13 July 2021)

Ennore SEZ project deviated from approved alignment  The activists said TANGEDCO misled Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji into issuing a statement that all is legal. “An exercise done using a handheld GPS by the Save Ennore Creek campaign has revealed that the ongoing construction has already led to the loss of more than 15 acres of wetlands, including 1.1 acres of the Kosasthalaiyar river. If allowed to proceed, this alignment will claim an additional 2.4 acres of river-spread including mangroves,” the campaign said. The map, created by the activists, showing the alleged deviation by TANGEDCO from the approved alignment for the coal conveyor corridor and encroaching the Kosasthalai river’s tidal channel.  (13 July 2021)

Compensate fisherfolk, local residents for loss of livelihood at Ennore: Activists Hitting out at TANGEDCO for continuing illegalities in Ennore Creek, a three-member citizen panel comprising of water expert Prof S Janakarajan, singer and activist TM Krishna and G Sundarrajan of Poovulagin Nanbargal wrote to Madras High Court Chief Justice and CM MK Stalin seeking compensation for the fisherfolk and local residents who are affected by the fly ash contamination and air pollution. They also warned the government that TANGEDCO’s exposure to liabilities arising from its reckless violation of laws in Ennore will place a substantial burden on the exchequer.  (24 July 2021)

A report released by the Save Ennore Creek campaign on Tuesday (Aug. 3) said dredged sea sand dumped into Kosasthalaiyar river’s backwaters in Ennore allegedly by TANGEDCO high levels of toxic metals like Arsenic, cadmium, copper and chromium. Sand samples were taken in July and tested by the Healthy Energy India Initiative, a public health collective which documents pollution in Chennai, at the Chester Labnet in Oregon, US.

This is a serious environmental issue which affects the livelihood of local fishermen, the collective said. “The level of metals in the sea sand is higher than what it should be & is an indication of historical pollution in the estuary & river due to fly ash & coal handling,” said Pooja Kumar, part of the campaign. (4 Aug 2021) 

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.  (12 Aug. 2021)

Fly ash still choking Buckingham Canal, backwaters A report submitted by a Joint Committee, appointed by the Southern Bench of the NGT, stated that the fly ash generated from Stages 1 and 2 of the North Chennai Ennore Thermal Power Station (NCTPS) has greatly reduced the volume of water flowing to the sea from the Buckingham Canal and its backwaters. The waterbodies had become pools of ash, the report said. The committee found that although the leakage of fly ash was not noticed during an on-site inspection, the accumulation persisted in the backwaters and the Buckingham Canal.  (30 Sept. 2021)

The new ash pipeline being built for NCTPS stage-3 in Ennore over Kosasthalaiyar river does not have mandatory statutory clearances, said the joint committee report submitted before the southern bench of NGT. The joint committee report confirmed the new pipeline violates CRZ rules.  (30 Sept. 2021)

PR Creek, wetlands, river space destruction renders 10 lakh people flood prone Even as efforts to monsoon-proof the city focus solely on Adyar, Cooum and Kovalam basins, Save Ennore Creek campaign appealed to the CM to visit the neglected Kosasthalai River’s Ennore backwaters where TANTRANSCO had encroached on more than 39 acres of wetlands, including 16.6 acres of areas identified as mangroves and mangrove buffers in the approved CZMP. Despite protests by Ennore fishers, TANTRANSCO has failed to remove the concrete debris roads laid blocking water flow in various parts of the backwaters, including across the Kuruvimedu and Buckingham Canals.

Calling attention to “Before-After” satellite images showing how TANTRANSCO had buried mangroves and illegally reclaimed the wetlands, the campaign referred to TANTRANSCO’s works as an act of ‘eco-vandalism’ that will endanger 1 million people in North Chennai, Manali, Madhavaram, Ponneri and Gummidipoondi if monsoon rains are heavy.  (07 Nov. 2021)

The ‘Science of the Seas’ page hopes to chronicle a different way of engaging with the natural universe, communicated in the language of the fishers, even as Nityanand takes a closer look at his own role as a middle-man between this knowledge and the readers of The Wire Science. 

Notice issued to Vedanta over contamination around Sterlite Copper plant In her petition, Babu demanded that Vedanta should remove all contaminated materials dumped in and around the plant at the time of its controversy-ridden operations. On hearing both sides, the Madurai Bench decided to issue a notice to Vedanta, allowing the mining major, five weeks’ time to respond. The matter has been listed for hearing in late September.  (17 Aug. 2021)

Fishers fight to save the Muthupet mangroves -In this third part (first part, second part) series titled “Lost Treasure,” The New Indian Express reporters travel through the once dense mangrove forests of the coastline. Going by the multiple testimonies of jurisdictional forest officials and the local populace, the fatalities from Gaja could have easily run into the hundreds if not for the Muthupet mangroves, which acted as a natural barrier that prevented the killer storm from hitting coastal villages in Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts.  (12 Feb. 2021) The three part series can also be seen here.

Maharashtra Coastal road projects are outdated Coastal Road Project (CRP) also ignores the eco-sensitive nature of the intertidal zone. Land-filling, unquestionably, desecrates fragile coastal ecosystems; it destroys coral reefs and crucial fish spawning grounds and disrupts marine food chains, which in turn impacts adversely the local fishery communities and economies dependent on them. Additionally, it creates a dam between the city and the water body, affecting natural storm-water drainage patterns and increasing the threat of flooding manifold. (12 Dec 2020)

Bandra locals take on fisheries dept over Chimbai shore destruction Four nature lovers sent a legal notice to the state accusing it of causing permanent destruction of the rocky shore at Chimbai fishing village in Bandra and damaging the mangroves abutting the area. In their notice dated December 30, addressed to the Commissioner of Fisheries, Maria Thelma Suresh Poojary and three others have said that local fishermen are opposed to a government project to upgrade the existing jetty saying it makes their homes and fish-drying area vulnerable to flooding. The activists have already moved the Bombay High Court on the project and the case is scheduled to be heard soon. The project was erroneously granted the CRZ clearance dated 16.09.2019, says the notice.  (04 Jan. 2021)

Mumbai coastal road project work leaves fisherfolk in uncharted waters While the project is at least two years away from completion, land reclamation along the Worli coast has already begun impacting the livelihoods of fisherfolk, with women and small fishermen’s incomes being the first to be hit. For decades, these groups within the broader fishing community have conducted their trade almost entirely along the rocky shore between Nepean Sea Road and Worli.

They largely include the Kolis, but also consist of members of the Agri and Christian communities who practice artisanal fishing. Boat owners, labourers, migrant workers, daily-wage or subsistence fishers, net-menders, oyster pickers and other vocations tied to the artisanal fishing trade have all been affected by the loss of these coastal commons, HT learnt through interviews and ground reporting.  (03 May 2021)

Digital agitation to save Panje wetland Ahead of the World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD), city environmentalists launched a digital agitation for conserving the 300-hectare Panje wetland in Uran as a biodiversity park and saving the destination for over 1,50,000 birds and the traditional source of survival for the fishing community.

Traditional fishing community forum Paaramparik Machhimar Bachao Kruti Samiti said no authority worth its name has bothered to look at the genuine, survival issues of the fishing community. “Our constitutional right is being violated to practice our trade and has been denied to us for decades with the onset of projects such as ONGC, JNPT, NMSEZ,” Samiti spokesman Dilip Koli said.  (18 Sept. 2021)

Koli fishing port to face permanent closure? Cleveland Bunder is one of four artisanal fish landing centres in Worli Koliwada, which is one of Mumbai’s earliest fishing villages, in existence since before the Seven Islands of Bombay were merged through successive land reclamation projects in the 19th century. Now, fisherfolk say, the bunder is under serious threat of permanent closure due to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) CRP, arguably the city’s next frontier in land reclamation.

As of date, Koli community leaders estimate that Cleveland Bunder supports at least a fourth of around 500 families in Worli Koliwada who still rely entirely on artisanal fishing as a source of income. It provides harbour for a varying fleet of motorised and non-motorised boats, which range between 45 to 60 on any given day and also employs several migrant fish workers in addition to the Kolis.  (17 Oct. 2021)

Worli fisherfolk protest against the interchange between coastal road and sea link at Worli, on Saturday. (Satish Bate/HT PHOTO)

Worli fisherfolk occupy sea near coastal road site Between 120 and 150 fishing boats from Worli Koliwada occupied a portion of the sea near the coastal road construction site, where work is underway on building an interchange to connect the coastal road and the Banda-Worli Sea Link (BWSL). The fisherfolk said that this segment of the controversial infra project will cut off access to their customary fishing grounds, and have refused to vacate the area until their demand for a redesign is met.  (30 Oct. 2021)

Goa Activists assail CZMP at marathon hearings Activists and environmentalists pointed out several discrepancies in the draft of the controversial CZMP during the much delayed public hearings on Thursday (July 8), with many alleging it was unlikely to protect and restore the coast. “The plan has several omissions of fishing villages, fishing sites and traditional access routes to the coast have not been shown. We are demanding that the plans submitted by the coastal villages which accurately reflect local knowledge, be accepted and incorporated into the final plan,” Abhijit Prabhudesai, an activist said.  (10 July 2021)

Draft CZMP stoked controversy Activists had alleged that 254 maps that were to cover the state but certain villages and municipal areas have been missing from the maps.

Locals and fishermen from South Goa villages have claimed that structures including some homes and churches have been left out of the CZMP. Traditional Fishermen Association and Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott had approached the Bombay High Court urging it to quash and set aside the public hearings scheduled on March 7. Earlier this week, however, the Goa bench of the High Court asked the petitioners to move the NGT and disposed of the petitions.  (06 March 2021)

Kerala Fishers lives lost in sea of manifestos During election campaigns, the most roadshows, rallies and so on are organised in the coastal areas. Every time without fail the political parties arrive with grand promises. But once the elections are over, they disappear into thin air, say the Fishers.

In 2018’s Great Flood in Kerala, Fishers were the state’s rescue force. The government called them Kerala’s army for their altruistic acts of bravery. But no one is here to protect the community from the loss of their jobs and homes, to rescue them from their lives as refugees.  (19 April 2021)

Odisha 7 villages vanishing from map According to a study conducted by the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) in Chennai, Odisha lost 28 per cent of its 550-km coastline to the sea between 1990 and 2016. Kendrapara alone lost 31 km. Until almost a decade ago, farming and fishing were the main sources of livelihood. But the sea rapidly swallowed several homes and farm land and increased the salinity of soil, rendering acres infertile. Like Sahoo, a majority of the youths took up jobs in other states like Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.  (06 April 2021)

DTE A third of coastline underwent erosion in 28 years As much as 32 per cent of India’s coastline underwent sea erosion and 27 per cent of it expanded between 1990 and 2018, according to a recent technical report by the NCCR under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences. The information was tabled by Parshottam Rupala, Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal, Husbandry and Dairying in response to a question in the Lok Sabha August 10, 2021. The coastal erosion does impact coastal communities residing in the erosion prone areas, including fishermen communities.  (17 Aug. 2021)  

Developmental Projects Endangering Fish, Fisherfolks

Uttarakhand Locals intensify stir against Sattal ‘development’  The local residents have alleged that any construction in the ecologically fragile area would damage its rich biodiversity. The region is famous as a bird-watching spot and is one of the few breeding places for the endangered mahseer fish.  (06 July 2021)

Manipur Loktak faces fresh threats Loktak lake stretching up to 35 km in length is being handed over to the hospitality industry. But fishermen wonder why they need to be evicted to make way for a few hundred seasonal tourists.  (09 April 2021)

Delhi DDA Master Plan Ignores Fishers The Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) Master Plan 2041 leaves out the people who have used the Yamuna’s resources to sustain their livelihoods for decades—like Delhi’s 2,500 to 3,000 fishers.  (24 July 2021)

Draft Master Plan 2041 is of DDA, Not of People If the Haryana government releases too much or too little water upstream, fishing gets compromised in this stretch near North Delhi’s Wazirabad. But the impact this has on North Delhi’s fishing economy is barely spoken of amidst the high octane political discussions over water sharing between the Haryana and Delhi state governments.  (25 Aug. 2021)

Time to create real connect between river & people  It needs to be remembered that there are already people whose lives and livelihoods are intertwined with the river – the farmers on its floodplains and its fisherfolk – who have the longest standing relationship with the river and its floodplains. Not only do they sustain through it, they have also helped maintain its floodplains, free from encroachments in the name of development.  (21 Sept. 2021)

Delhi & Its ‘Unseen’ Fisherfolks Some fishermen, despite having a license, undergone training, and residing in Delhi for more than 40 years, could not get their cooperative registered as they were unable to produce the certificates/proofs linking them to their ancestral communities in West Bengal.

Photo: Avikal Parashari; Source: The Wire

– During the year 2017-18, Delhi’s output of the inland fisheries sector (measured in monetary terms at the 2011-12 prices) was Rs 9.8 crore, being consistently the same in the last decade (NSSO, 2020).  (09 Feb. 2021)

Invasive Fish

Study Exotic brown trout threatening native Himalayan fish species The research, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, shows that snow trout highly prefer the river mainstem or the downstream segment for survival. However, the invasive brown trout is forcing the native species to move upstream towards headwaters or the source of the river.  (25 Sept. 2021)

Book Story of how trout came to call Indian rivers its home This delightful account of an unknown slice of India’s colonial past combines incredible research involving antique books, rare documents and letters of wistful longing for the trout with the minutiae of fishing and skilful planning. Spanning the Kashmir valley, Kullu, Uttarkashi, the Nilgiris, erstwhile Travancore and Ceylon, this unique and incredible tale is about magnificent passions, countless failures and ultimate triumph. 

Kerala Study finds over 30 alien species in water bodies Study findings, recently published in Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, states that Kerala’s waters are home to 28 alien fish species and four alien aquatic weeds or macrophytes. The fish surveys were conducted in 44 rivers and 53 reservoirs of the state. The most common invasive species recorded were Mozambique tilapia and common carp.

The maximum number of exotic fish species was recorded from Chalakudy river, which harboured 11 exotic fish species of which eight species were recorded after the flood, which includes the rare mega fish like Arapaima gigas. Another paper published by the team in April noted that: “high magnitude flooding events in August 2018 and 2019 resulted in the escape of at least ten alien fish species that were recorded for the first time, from the natural waters of the Western Ghats.”  (22 Nov. 2021)

Checking spread of invasive alien fish In a paper, scientists at the University of Kerala reiterated concern over the expansion of alien, or non-native species in biodiversity hotspots triggered by extreme climate events, such as the flood-driven release of alien species from illegal aquaculture in Kerala.

A man displays an alligator gar caught from a river in Kerala. The fish can measure up to three metres in length and could put the native fish species at risk. Photo from Smrithy Raj/ Monga Bay India

Most of the alien species that enter India are principally for ornamental trade. West Bengal is the largest ornamental fish producer in India, followed by Tamil Nadu; the trend is catching up in Kerala, fanned by a swelling rank of aquarists, many of who are not aware of the potential pitfalls of dumping exotics in water bodies after they exceed the length of their tanks.

India’s share in the global ornamental fish trade (export) is less than one percent. The majority of fish breeders in India breed exotic fishes and very few breed indigenous fishes. Over 300 exotic species are believed to be integral to India’s ornamental fish trade.  (19 May 2021)

Accidental sighting of invasive turtle raises red flag The accidental finding of a red-eared slider turtle recently from the Malankara dam in Idukki has raised concerns that the invasive species has reached the water bodies in the district, posing a threat to other endemic local species. The turtle in the Malankara dam was spotted after it was trapped in the net while fishing by a local resident. The species was first found in the State at two locations in Thrissur in 2018. In February last, its presence was noticed in Thrissur in small private waterbodies as well.  (03 Sept. 2021)

Plastic Pollution

Study Fishing nets threatening fish In the study, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, surveys along the length of the river, from the mouth in Bangladesh to the Himalayas in India, show levels of waste fishing gear are highest near to the sea. The researchers noted that fishing nets — all made of plastic — were the most common type of gear found.

“There is no system for fishers to recycle their nets. Most fishers told us they mend and repurpose nets if they can, but if they can’t do that the nets are often discarded in the river,” said Nelms. “Many held the view that the river ‘cleans it away’, so one useful step would be to raise awareness of the real environmental impacts,” she said.  (30 Nov. 2020)

Fishing on the Ganges. Credit: Heather Koldewey/

Indeed there is need to raise awareness about this among the fisherfolks: how their discarded fishing gear, thrown in rivers, could harm their own livelihoods: fish in the river.  (25 Nov. 2020)

Hundreds of Fish Species, Including Many That Humans Eat, Are Consuming Plastic  (13 Feb. 2021)

Microplastics in 7 popular fish varieties Researchers from NCCR found microplastics in 80% of samples of seven popular fish species sold at Pattinapakkam near the Marina, one of the four major fish landing centres in the city.

NCCR scientist Pravakar Mishra said, “We found a high presence of small particles of plastics in the surface seawater during our study in Bay of Bengal from Pulicat lake to Odisha coast. “The gut portion where we found microplastics is mostly removed in bigger fishes before consumption but leaching of the chemicals from the plastics could still go up the food chain to humans,” he added.  (09 March 2021)

Last year, alarm bells went ringing after scientists found micro-plastic pollution in the snow near the peak of Mount Everest.  (10 March 2021)

According to a study conducted by the CMFRI in 2018 major oceans will have more plastic than fish. By 2050 more than 850 metric tonne of plastics will be found in the sea whereas fish will be 821 metric tonne by then. Another study conducted by a global body Alfred Wegenar Institute says seas near Mumbai, Kerala and Andaman Nicobar Islands are among the most polluted in the world.  (19 Oct. 2021)

Inland Waterways

Opinion A tale of unkept promises Shripad Dharmadhikary, Avli Verma There are some indications that with projects such as Arth Ganga and community jetties, JMVP may be tweaked to accommodate the needs of local communities. But so far, it is a small effort. It remains to be seen whether IWAI will prioritise the needs of local communities and fishers or of large corporate users.  (07 June 2021)

Bihar Vessel takes 5 days to reach Patna from Varanasi “If it takes more time to transport cargo than while using road transport or the railway. Why will traders will opt for?” asked an IWAI official who wished to remain anonymous. “It is not a good idea to develop and promote Inland Water Transport on this route via the river Ganga; there are delays and it is a time-taking process, which is not at all a healthy sign,” the official added.  (04 Jan. 2021)

MoEF 10k aquatic mammals fall victim to fishing vessels each year Around 9,000 to 10,000 aquatic mammals like whales and dolphins get snagged by mechanised fishing vessels every year across India, according to the Union environment ministry. So-called marine megafauna also get stranded on shore either alive or dead for reasons such as fisheries bycatch (marine species snagged in mechanised boats unintentionally during fishing), boat strikes, noise pollution, disease and disorientation, according to a ministry document on stranding guidelines released on Thursday (Jan. 28)..  (01 Feb. 2021)

Mining Threats, Resistance Growing

Karnataka Sand Policy at odds with Kasturirangan report A riparian ecosystem is a vegetated area near a stream, usually thickly forested, which helps shade and partially protect the stream. It plays a key role in increasing water quality in associated streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries. Sand mining will destroy them, enhance the drying of perennial steams leading to extinction of amphibians, fish and other water habitat fauna/flora.  (03 Jan. 2021)

Traditional fishermen demand halt to sand extraction from rivers in CRZ The Moola Nadi Meenugarara Sangha (association of traditional river fishermen) on Jan 1, 2021 urged the authorities concerned to immediately stop riverbed sand extraction in CRZ areas in the guise of clearing sand dunes for fishing boat movement, as it is affecting traditional fishermen. Traditional Fishermen get into the river directly to lay nets and these methods were called Bolpubale, Rampani, among others.

On the other hand, fisherwomen collect Maruvai (clam) from rivers. However, extensive sand extraction from riverbeds in CRZ in the recent past has been threatening traditional fishermen wherein riverbeds have become deep. Even women were finding it difficult to collect Maruvai.   (01 Jan. 2021)

Goa Fishermen stand against scooping of Sal riverbed The traditional fishermen gathered to protest against the digging process after a dredger was seen in the river. According to media reports, this was not a move to desilt the river, but, a case of ‘capital dredging’ to remove the virgin soil from the sea bed to create smooth navigational channels for larger ships.  (11 Dec. 2020) Traditional fishermen on Monday (Jan. 04) opposed desilting of the Sal until the government conducts a physical site inspection, along with them. The work would be undertaken only after taking the fishermen into confidence, assured ports minister Michael Lobo.  (05 Jan. 2021) The Assolna Velim Cavelossim Betul Traditional Fishermen Association on Jan 10, 2021 agreed to proposed 2nd phase of desilting River Sal’s 6-km stretch provided the officials adhere to certain conditions.  (11 Jan. 2021)

Kerala Stir against mineral sand-mining completes 26 days An indefinite relay satyagraha under the aegis of the Karimanal Ghanana Virudha Ekopana Samiti against mineral sand-mining at Thottappally completed 26 days on Monday (July 5). Local residents, especially fishers who are up in arms, allege that the government is engaged in large-scale mineral sand-mining in the disguise of flood mitigation. The coastline is prone to severe sea attacks and coastal erosion. Residents fear the sand-mining would prove detrimental to people living along the shorelines from Valiazheekal to Punnapra.  (05 July 2021)

Voices from Thottappally, other coasts need to be heard Sand mining in Thottappally was initiated with the construction of the fishing harbour on the coast.  (09 Sept. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Riverbed mining woes for fishes The aquatic life in the freshwater streams faces threats from riverbed mining and rising pollution. Increasing mechanised riverbed mining in the river Jhelum and its tributaries, to extract gravel, boulders, and sand for construction purposes, has threatened fish habitats.  (11 Nov. 2021)

Past 40 years have been particularly brutal for riverine ecology as pollution, encroachment & water diversion have increased, adding to introduction of non-native species. In recent years a new threat has emerged: riverbed mining.  (16 July 2021)

Uttar Pradesh Attack on Nishad leaders BJP leader Nishad said he will meet CM Yogi Adityanath to look into the possibility of allowing sand mining in the area. “They want to malign the image of our government,” he said. “Since Ramayan time, the Nishad community is working on the river and no animal was affected. But now after an FIR the NGT is saying that this is affecting turtles and crocodiles. The administration takes money from the big mining mafia and instead of acting against them, they trouble the poor fishermen.”  (07 Feb. 2021)

Nishads or Mallahs are a group of riverine communities traditionally engaged with river-bed farming, boating, fisheries and other similar activities. On February 4, a joint team of police personnel and administrative and mining officials landed up at Mohabbatganj and Baswar village in the Trans-Yamuna area of the district, after complaints of alleged sand mining in the river. Dozens of people on boats were digging sand out of the Yamuna, said the Prayagraj police.  (06 Feb. 2021)

Odisha Subarnarekha water level sinks Thousands of fishermen also depend on the river. As sand of Subarnarekha has a high demand for construction work, mafia of both the states has been plundering its sand over years.  (11 April 2021) 

Meghalaya Minister asks Centre to rethink EC to mining project “There are a number of problematic issues with this EC. The proposed area for expansion falls very close to the Lukha river & our concern is that it will lead to the pollution of this river, which the locals depend on not only for water but also for fish. The proposed area is close to the Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary, which is adjacent to the mining area,” said Dohling. (23 Jun 2021)

Opinion Why beach sand mining is so dangerous Sumaira Abdulali Our most beautiful Indian beaches are under serious threat from recent plans to legalise private-sector beach sand mining. Legalizing sand mining on beaches will destroy coastal fishing livelihoods and worsen the effects of climate change and sea-level rise.  (11 Nov. 2021)

Report Protecting coastline from mining exploitation The serious environmental impact of sand mining harms both coastal welfare and fisheries sectors. The sand mafia in particular has shown little regard for collateral damage or the long-term sustainability of sand mining.  (20 April 2020)    

Sand mining destroying planet; costing lives Sand mining destroys habitats, dirties rivers and erodes beaches, many of which are already losing ground to rising sea levels. When miners dig out layers of sand, riverbanks become less stable. The pollution and acidity can kill fish and leave less water for people and crops. The problem is made worse when dams upstream prevent sediments from replenishing the river.  (15 March 2021)

Covid 19; Lockdown; Fuel Prices Impact Fisherfolks

Uttar Pradesh Mirzapur boatmen in troubled waters Members of the manjhi community in Mirzapur earn their livelihood by rowing their boats in Ganga and helping people commute. They have still not recovered from the impact of last year’s lockdown. They fear another lockdown might just wipe them off.  (13 April 2021)

Fish trade hit after COVID bodies dumped in river The fish business in Prayagraj, Lucknow and Kanpur have been severely hit after COVID bodies were found floating in rivers last month. “We resumed business two days ago when the Corona curfew was lifted but people are just not coming forward to buy fish. Even our regular customers have stopped buying fish. When we made inquiries, they said that they were wary of eating fish that may have been infected due to the bodies floating in the rivers,” said Prashant Kumar, a fish seller in the Narhi market in Lucknow.  (12 June 2021)

Kerala How Covid impacted fisherfolks This explains how Covid 19 pandemic has affected the fisherfolks and fisheries in Kerala.  It must be remembered that social distancing, sanitizers, and other means of personal protection are a luxury for these backward communities.

Efforts to minimize the impact of Covid -19 on fishermen communities should be taken immediately | File Photo (Mathrubhumi).–1.5833797  (16 July 2021)

West Bengal Spiralling fuel prices are stunting growth of hilsa Steep hike in fuel prices is taking a toll on hilsa in Indian Bay of Bengal as fishermen cast nets in shallow waters along coastline instead of deep sea. They are using finer nets that trap juvenile hilsa instead of larger nets that allow juvenil to escape.  (15 July 2021)

Fish, Fishers Bearing Burnt of Polluted, Dried Water Bodies

Odisha Jagatsinghpur rivers dry up – In 2018, after locals protest, a six-member team of CIFRI, Kolkata had visited different areas of Biridi block to prepare techno-economic feasibility report and DPR to both Central and State governments for revival of the Alaka river. But, the reports are yet to be submitted. A year later, the Fisheries Directorate had again sought the CIFRI’s intervention for a DPR to mitigate the water crisis but the research institute is yet to give a response.  (16 Jan. 2021)

Villagers skip Holi demanding revival of river Led by eminent cardiologist, Dr PC Rath, the convenor of ‘Save Suku Paika’ campaign, residents of Bodhapur gram panchayat did not celebrate Holi this year. They decided to observe ‘Chuli Bandh’ (no cooking in every household) on April 22 and organise ‘Jalabhisheka’ by lifting water from Mahanadi and pouring it into the dry Suku Paika river on May 16. On June 7, farmers and fishermen of the locality would take out a rally to the local tehsil office and stage demonstration over the issue.  (31 March 2021)

Protest against water diversion project  The Rs 754-crore mega project envisages diverting water from the Kharosotra in Kendrapara district to 0.5 million people in neighbouring Bhadrak district.

Hemant Rout, an environmentalist and the secretary of Gahirmatha Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society, said the project would cause an ‘ecological disaster’ in the nearby Bhitarkanika National Park. Rout said: The salinity level will increase after the diversion of the water from the river. Farmers will be the worst sufferers as they will not be able to continue irrigation smoothly. The area’s water-based biodiversity, including fisheries will face extinction.  (12 Aug. 2019)

Irrigation canal network of the Rengali mega water project in Angul district is expected to lead to withdrawal of huge quantities of fresh water from Brahmani River thereby affecting supply of freshwater to Bhitarkanika wetland. Experts demand a plan to maintain the fresh water flow.  (07 Sept. 2021)

West Bengal Over 25 lakh people lost jobs due to dying rivers The mass rally at Ramlila Maidan, organised by Sabuj Mancha, marked many firsts in poll-bound Bengal. “The geography of Bengal’s rivers has become history and we have lost biodiversity on a massive scale. The ground water recharge has been hampered to a great extent. Fishermen lost their livelihood like farmers. But the state administration and the Centre have remained indifferent to this issue,” said Naba Dutta of Sabuj Mancha.  (18 March 2021)

Gujarat Dumping Jetpur’s effluents in deep sea worries fishermen The fishing community along the Saurahstra coast and environment activists have expressed concern over the state government’s plan to dump the effluent from industries in Jetpur, Rajkot into deep sea near Porbandar. The government has proposed a Rs 700 crore pipeline project to transport treated water from the common effluent treatment plants (CETP) in Jetpur to Porbandar. The fishing community has raised concern over the impact of the project on future of fishing industry that thrives on exports to Europe and US. They apprehend that dumping of effluent into deep sea will not only adversely impact the fish population but also contaminate the marine organisms.  (09 June 2021)

PM told to ‘reconsider’ Rs 2275 cr project In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, well-known environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.  (28 July 2021)

Karnataka Indigenous fishes dwindling in rivers; lakes Experts said that instead of focusing on indigenous fishes, the Fisheries Department gave a thrust to fast production of fishes, resulting in indigenous varieties vanishing from rivers and lakes.

TNM Image

Nowadays, Rohu and Katla among other varieties, all belonging to Ganga river region, have been bred in state fish farms for consumption. Attention has not been given to indigenous varieties, which are making a slow exit from rivers and lakes.  (30 Jan. 2021)

Power unit’s water discharge threatening marine life: Fisherfolk Residents and fishermen in and around Yermal near Padubidri in Udupi district have said the Udupi Power Corporation Ltd., (UPCL) of Adani Group has been letting out hot water used in the plant directly into the beach, thereby affecting marine life.  (28 Feb. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Why not invoke goonda act against waterbodies polluters: HC The Court took notice that many water bodies are completely polluted and they have become sewage channels. “When the water bodies are polluted, not only the water, but soil is also polluted and the water becomes unfit for drinking purpose as well as for cultivation”, noted the Court. That apart, the Court said, because of pollution, the fishes and other living creatures in the water bodies are also killed and the water bodies become unfit to be a living place for those creatures.  (03 Dec. 2020)

Indiscriminate discharge of untreated sewage and dumping of garbage have increased levels of pollutants in the Perungalathur lake which, if unchecked, could also pollute groundwater in the neighbourhood, a study by a city team has found. Prof R Kungumapriya of Pachaiyappa’s College’s zoology department, one of the researchers, said pollutants in the lake could enter the human body through fish sold in the neighbourhood.  (19 Aug. 2021)

Jammu & Kashmir Wular’s troubled fisherfolk reckon with a dying lake Fisherman at Wolar lake in Kashmir: “The fish mostly hide in springs underwater during the day and come out for a stroll at night,” Mohammad Akbar, a 60-year-old fisherman, told me. “During my childhood, we would catch around twenty kilograms of fish between 7 pm and 6 am, but now we get hardly four kilos in the summer and one to two kilos in the winter—and sometimes we return empty-handed.”  (31 Oct. 2021)

Kerala 100 fish species found in Vembanad lake 92 fin fish species and eight shellfish species (total 100) were recorded in the survey of fish in Vembanad lake in August 2021. 76 species of fish were found in 2020, while the figure was 98 in 2019.  (07 Sept. 2021) 

“Very pathetic” is how the Kerala State Legal Services Authority’s (KeLSA) report to the high court describes the condition of the lake spread over an area of around 1,700 sqkm. Even fish, like Karimeen, found in the lake no longer taste the same as they used to during his younger days when Ashtamudi was not as polluted as it was presently, a resident said.  (02 Oct. 2021)

Delhi Govt bans fishing The animal husbandry department on Tuesday (June 29) banned fishing in parts of river Yamuna, citing the high pollution levels in the water.  (30 June 2021) Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP told ToI that the government should work on improving the water quality of the Yamuna rather than restricting activities like fishing as many communities are dependent on the river for livelihood.  (30 June 2021)

Uttar Pradesh River water quality worsening As per the latest UPPCB report, Noida is the only city where the Yamuna falls under “E” category, that makes the river unfit for drinking even after conventional treatment and disinfection, bathing or survival of fish and other aquatic organisms.  (11 July 2021)

Aquaculture and Biodiversity

Maharashtra Committee formed to review environmental impact of inland aquaculture NGT has formed a six-member committee to study the sustainability of inland aquaculture practices and submit a report on the same within three months. The committee will also undertake study of the existing consent regime under the Water Act, and suggest appropriate improvements for the same. Environment group Vanashakti had filed the petition last year against fresh water aquaculture being carried out in Vadivale Lake in Maval taluka of Pune district.  (03 June 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Decoding the mystery illness that struck Eluru Intensive agriculture, the growth of aquaculture and the agri processing industry, over the past 3-4 decades, have seen the large-scale use of a variety of agrochemicals and pesticides in coastal districts. Experts from Nagarjuna University in Guntur point out that since it’s a low lying area, the chemicals that are applied in the upland region (especially Krishna and Khammam) get washed all over the place.  (05 Jan. 2021)

Groundwater in Krishna villages turns saltier The report cites that an increase in aqua farming in Krishna and West Godavari in recent years has converted fertile lands into water bodies, resulting in increasing salination of the groundwater table. Government figures from the fisheries department indicate that there has been a three-fold increase in brackish water area from 2014 to 2017 from 20,000 to 56,094 hectares and if illegal cultivation is considered, this figure could increase up to one lakh hectares.  (09 Sept. 2021)

NGT directs Collector to inspect Beela wetlands Earlier the government handed over these lands to Nagarjuna Constructions Company (NCC) for establishing a Thermal Power Plant, but the government cancelled it as locals protested. Again, NCC management tried to establish industrial park by managing some leaders even this attempt was failed. Now, NCC management is making efforts to start aquaculture on these lands.

In this regard, Paryavarana Parirakshana Samithi, local fishermen and former secretary to the Government of India (energy department), EAS Sharma filed a case before the NGT. After verifying details NGT directed district collector to inspect the lands.  (09 Sept. 2021)

Kerala Farmers stare at debt trap Farmers have taken loans and invested Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to set up tanks; Fries delivered to them are infected or are of poor quality.  (10 July 2021)

Study Metal pollution in aquaculture farms A study of aquaculture farms across 10 States, which account for the bulk of India’s production, has found “hazardous” levels of metals such as lead and cadmium in all of them. Profligate use of antibiotics and insecticides for cultivation and the threat of anti-microbial resistance have contributed making aquaculture a “ticking time bomb,” according to the authors of the study commissioned by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS).

FIAPO and ACGS studied about 250 fish and shrimp farms across the nine highest producing States and one Union Territory. This included fresh and brackish water farms in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Gujarat, W Bengal & Orissa, and freshwater farms in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh & Assam. The objective was to assess the condition of fish & shrimp farms in India & their impacts on animal welfare, public health & environmental hazard.  (15 Jan. 2021)

“Unclean ponds laden with growth-enhancing hormones lead to bloated and sickly fish that are low on nutritive value and loaded with antibiotics,” Koushik Raghavan, the lead investigator of the report, told News18.

-Such unhygienic conditions have led to frequent disease outbreaks at half the farms visited and caused significant commercial losses. In the past, contaminated fish have had to be disposed of on a large scale. But the authors note in the study that at several instances, farmers were found to be selling these diseased fish and shrimps at the local market to minimise their losses, furthering risking human contamination.  (20 Jan. 2021)

Preparing to sample fish, using a throw net, in a pond owned by Uttam Khatua, who has been a fish farmer in West Bengal for the past three decades © G Singh/ The Fish Site.

Indian fish farmers refute report  Farmers claim that the report is biased and risks causing economic damage to an industry that is trying to recover after the pandemic-induced lockdown.  (31 March 2021)

Report Aquaculture has an antibiotics problem A new report has issued an urgent warning on the spread of drug resistance (anti-microbial resistance, AMR) from animal to human pathogens. It identifies aquaculture as a major source worldwide. Aquaculture (fish farming) is an under-appreciated source of AMR, and as global citizens, we can no longer neglect its ecological and human impacts. The challenge for the scientific and political community is to find a sustainable solution to the spread of AMR without compromising the economic security of fishing societies.  (29 May 2021)

Can probiotics solve aquaculture’s water pollution issues? The authors argue that researchers must now focus their efforts on understanding bacillus’ genetic makeup and how the microbes interact with their surrounding environment at the molecular level. This in-depth information would let producers use probiotics more efficiently – ensuring they remain a cost-effective solution to a range of production issues.  (08 Dec. 2020)

History, Culture & Festivals

Tamil Nadu Fish symbol found on ring well at Keeladi The only ring well with patterned twin coir bands, unearthed during the seventh phase of excavations in Keeladi three months ago, has thrown up another surprise — on the top most of its seven levels, a decorated fish symbol has been found incised. It appears above the first coir band, carved with thumb impressions. The shape of the fish, with tail, fins and scales, is clear. Only the part with its head is broken.  (20 Oct. 2021) No decision has been taken on the eighth phase of excavation at Keeladi, said minister for archaeology Thangam Thennarasu who inspected the findings of the seventh phase of excavation at Keeladi. (19 Oct. 2021

West Bengal Shudra queen Rashmoni & sacred river Amitangshu Acharya The Shudra queen protected the Hooghly as a commons for fishing rights, and the river has forever remained ‘Rani Rashmonir Jal’ or the waters of Rani Rashmoni.  

The ‘rani’ prefix for Rashmoni resonates with that of ‘Ma’ for Ganga — both emerge from the love of the people and meet at the point where the Ganga’s waters become Rani Rashmonir Jal, finally dissolving the caste barrier between the Shudra queen and the sacred river.  (19 June 2021)

Rajasthan Blind snow trout near Thar desert

The blind fish that Raza Tehsin found in Rajasthan in 1987. Arefa Tehsin/

This biological puzzle could be the key to deepen our geological understanding of the region.  (13 Dec. 2020)

Report Protecting sacred fish of Cauvery by Suradha I While local efforts to protect and save fish populations are to be encouraged, temples tend to pose a particularly tricky problem because fish are revered and safe on one hand, and at risk of disease and death, on the other. Such sites can be used to protect fish populations most at risk of extinction if the populations are maintained following scientific methods. Since the pandemic in 2020, the temple has closed off river access to visitors, and it would be interesting to see how the populations have adapted to the loss of their easy sources of food. Time, data, and science will tell. 

Jammu & Kashmir  A spring & fish festival  Panjath Nag in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district supplies water to the Trout Fish Hatchery apart from supply drinking and irrigation water to several other villages. During annual Rohan Posh fish festival, hundreds of men and children go fishing at the waterfall as part of their tradition. This festival has a big contribution in the conservation of the waterfall. This tradition is relevant even today and since ancient times, the work of cleaning has been going on here on this occasion.  (08 Now. 2021)

Uttarakhand Maun festival cancelled due to Covid 19 This festival is traditionally held in last week of June every year on Aglar river a tributary of Yamuna in Nainbag. Only on two earlier occasions the festival was not held first in 1948 due to dispute arising between villagers and Tehri ruler then in 2013 to pay tribute to June 2013 Kedarnath disaster victims. The fair is being held for past more than 150 years. More than hundreds villages participate in the festival.  (27 June 2020)

Research; Studies, Books

Study Poor groundwater governance threatens subterranean fishes RajeevRaghavan, NeeleshDahanukar- Groundwater depletion is a significant global issue, but its impact on the often-enigmatic subterranean biodiversity and its conservation remains poorly understood. In the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot of India, poor governance of groundwater resources is threatening its evolutionarily distinct subterranean freshwater fauna, some taxa of which represent Gondwanan relics.  (09 July 2021)

Catfishes in India A recent study reveals diversity within catfishes of the genus Sperata in India. Link to Paper:

Threatened species 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:  (22 May 2021)

Presenting the 22nd new species from our team – Dawkinsia uttara, a new species of filament barb! Look out for this fish if you are in the Kajali, Jagabudi and Terekhol river systems in the Konkan region of northern Western Ghats.  Paper is available open access from Vertebrate Zoology – VZ-70-4-11

Puzzle of water-to-land transition of vertebrates solved A team led by Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, collaborating with domestic and overseas researchers, has unravelled the mystery of water-to-land transition of vertebrates by investigating the genomes of African lungfish, bichir, paddlefish, bowfin and alligator gar. They reported the findings in two studies, both published in Cell. The findings of these studies are important to understand the evolution mechanism and process of vertebrates from water to land.  (26 Feb 2021)

Prized Catch

Odisha 33 rare fish worth Rs 1 crore caught off the coast A group of 10 fishermen caught 33 rare telia bhola fish on of West Bengal’s Digha estuary. The huge rare telia bhola fishes, weighing about 84 kgs, were immediately brought to the open market for auction purpose. A pharmaceutical company in Kolkata bought 33 fish for Rs 1 crore during the auction in the market, added reports.  (27 Oct. 2021)

The Telia Bhola’ fish was sold for Rs 36 lakh, at the rate of Rs 49,300 per kilogram. It is said that the fish has some valuable resources in its stomach, which makes it so expensive. Last year, Pushpa Kar, a resident of Chakphuldubi village on Sagar Island in West Bengal, sold a massive Bhola fish for Rs 3 lakh. The fish was sold at the local market for Rs 6,200 per kilogram.  (27 Oct. 2021)

Maharashtra Fisherman earns over Rs 1 Cr Ghol fish is not only a delicacy but also has many medicinal properties and is highly valued in various countries. Its parts are used to make medicines and other high-priced products. The fish is also known as “the fish with the heart of gold.”  (01 Sept. 2021) On an average, Tare managed to sell each ghol fish for Rs 85000. Ghol fish fetches a good price also because of the commercial value it carries.  (01 Sept. 2021)

Govts Actions

Centre India opposes fisheries deal at WTO India on Thursday (July 15) opposed a move by developed countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to scrap subsidies for fishermen, demanding a balance between current and future fishing needs of developing countries as well as effective special and differential treatment (S&DT) keeping in mind their developmental needs.  (15 July 2021)

The government has warned that an unbalanced agreement would bind nations into current fishing arrangements leading to grave consequences for marine exports, further compounded by the fact that fish remains the staple diet for many poor people.  (16 July 2021)

Economic Survey 2020-21 highlights:– Fish production reached an all-time high of 14.16 million metric tons during 2019-20: GVA by the Fisheries sector to the national economy stood at ₹2,12,915 crores constituting 1.24% of the total national GVA and 7.28 % of the agricultural GVA.  (29 Jan. 2021)

PM Matsya Sampada Yojana For more details, click the link – The operational guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) can be checked using the link below:;

Centre to certify shrimp farms India exported frozen shrimp worth almost $5 billion in 2019-20, with the U.S. and China its the biggest buyers. But a combination of factors had hurt export volumes in recent months, including container shortages and incidents of seafood consignments being rejected because of food safety concerns.

Frozen shrimp is India’s largest exported seafood item. It constituted 50.58% in quantity and 73.2% in terms of total U.S. dollar earnings from the sector during 2019-20. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are India’s major shrimp producing States, and around 95% of the cultured shrimp produce is exported.  (11 April 2021)

Matsya Setu app for fish farmers The Matsya Setu app promises information, awareness and training to fish farmers. Some of India’s best aquaculture experts will share advice, best practices and impart training to fish farmers through this app launched recently by Indian Council of Agricultural Research- Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (ICAR-CIFA), based in Bhubaneswa.

The scientific methods of fish farming would enhance productivity and income, the minister assured. Image source: Gaon Connection.

The Matsya Setu modules will have video chapters, along with quizzes, tests and options of self-assessment. On completion of each course module, an e-certificate would be generated for the participant. There is also an option in the app, where farmers could get their doubts and questions addressed by experts. Most of the videos are in Hindi and English. There are plans to have them in Odia, Bengali, Marathi, etc. for a wider reach.  (08 July 2021)

The fourteenth edition of the Handbook on Fisheries Statistics 2020 contains the latest information on various domains of fisheries sector namely, fish production and productivity, disposition of fish catch, consumption of fish, fisheries economy, expenditure on fisheries, exports, fishers population, fisheries resources, fishers welfare, fisheries institutes, international scenario, post-harvest infrastructure and fisheries development. 

NABARD aid for integrated mangrove fishery farming system  The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) extended a grant of ₹24.90 lakh for a project on Integrated Mangrove Fishery Farming System (IMFFS) in Cuddalore district. According to a release, the project is being implemented by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and is aimed at enhancing the adaptive capacity of the fishing community. The project is being implemented on 2.10 hectares of land in Mudasalodai village by involving traditional and Irula fishers from Mudasalodai and Kalaignar coastal hamlets in Pichavaram.  (22 Aug. 2021)

Sikkim ‘Katley’ declared as state fish The government has declared ‘Cooper Mahseer’ locally named ‘Katley’ as the state fish, an official of the Fisheries department said. “In Sikkim, Katley is found in varied altitudes covering entire state predominantly confined in Teesta and Rangit rivers and their tributaries. In the year 1992, ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR), Lucknow had categorized Katley fish as endangered species.  (19 Sept. 2021)

Manipur State fish introduced in cage culture For the first time, Manipur’s state fish ‘Pengba’ (Osteobrama belangeri) has been introduced in cage aquaculture on a trial basis in an attempt to enhance table fish production to meet the increasing demand of fish and its conservation. Similarly, the cage culture was being introduced to different fish varieties even in other northeastern states such as Assam Tripura, Meghalaya and it can also help in meeting the increasing demand of fish in the context of Manipur as and when the on-going experiment is successful.  (25 Dec. 2020)

Arunachal Pradesh Fisheries dept to establish hatcheries for cold water fisheries soon: Taki Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture, AH& Vety., DD & Fisheries Tage Taki informed that the fisheries department is planning to establish hatcheries for cold water fisheries in Mechuka, Ziro, Anini, Tawang and Bomdila which will help in job creation and development of the region. He said this during his visit to the NABARD regional office here on Wednesday (Sept. 8).  (09 Sept. 2021)

Over 5K fingerlings released The 37-Assembly Constituency Welfare Forum, in collaboration with the East Siang district fisheries department, on Monday (Nov. 8) organized a river ranching programme on a trial basis, during which over 5,000 fingerlings of various carps and indigenous fish species were released into the rivers and perennial streams in Pasighat West area in East Siang district.  (09 Sept. 2021)

Meghalaya Lukha river revived The Lukha — “reservoir of fish” in the local Pnar language — was considered toxic beyond redemption a decade ago. The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board had in its 2012 investigative report blamed the contamination on acid mine drainage and run-off from the coal mines. The Lukha river is in the East Jaintia Hills district where most of Meghalaya’s rat-hole coal mines are located.  (11 Oct. 2021)

Assam Community fishing banned in Deepor Beel The government imposed section 144 CrPC under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 prohibiting assembly of more than five persons in and around Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary for community fishing. The prohibitory order has been imposed in the wildlife sanctuary located to the south-west of the city from January 1 to January 31, 2021. Villagers from the areas around Deepor Beel take part in the community fishing in the wetland to welcome the New Year.  (31 Dec. 2020)

Jammu & Kashmir Rainbow trouts rain profits for farmers Farmers in Kashmir are taking up rainbow trout farming, tempted by high returns. Fish farms in many states get lakhs of eyed ova of rainbow trout from Kokernag fisheries farm in J&K, and make a neat profit from selling the grown fish.  (04 March 2021)

Trout swims to success Kashmir’s trout is in demand, with states in India seeking its eggs to rear the famed fish breed. Just this year, in January, 500,000 trout ova were dispatched from its famous Kokernag farm in the Anantnag district to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Uttarakhand. Then, in February, another 200,000 trout eggs were sent to Sikkim through the Directorate of Research Centre, Bhimtal (ICAR) in Uttarakhand. The 700,00 trout ova sent to these states were airlifted so the progeny reach the respective destinations safe and unharmed.  (29 March 2021)

Himachal Pradesh 500 tonnes of fish to be harvested from Gobind Sagar dam The overall fish production in the Gobind Sagar dam is set to reach 500 metric tonnes this fiscal, ensuring additional income for 3,963 fishermen and 2,169 fish licence holders, Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said on Tuesday (Nov. 17). The fish production in the reservoir is likely to hit 30 kg per hectares in comparison with 23.78 kg per hectares in 2019-2020, he told IANS.

As per the Director-cum-Warden of Fisheries, 195.34 metric tonnes of fish was harvested from the reservoir from April to October this year compared with 164.35 metric tonnes during this period in 2019. In 2017-18, the yield was 346.42 metric tonnes from April to October. The species reared here include the silver carp, grass carp, and common carp. Illegal mining in rivers and unscientific dumping of road construction debris in the rivers is also destroying fish breeding grounds, say fish experts. This has caused a decline in fish production in the Gobind Sagar too.  (17 Nov. 2020)

Mahseer fish number up The Fisheries Department is emphasizing its main focus on artificial breeding of Golden Mahseer fish and by conserving and ranching of the river system with Mahseer seed would also promote eco-tourism in the state. The state recorded  20900, 28700 and 41450  Golden Mahseer fish eggs production in the year 2017-18  year 2018-19 and year 2019-20 respectively. The state has recorded highest 45.311 MT Mahseer catches during these years.  (20 Dec. 2020)

Fisheries dept hurting trout farmers “The government must stop competing with us in the same market,” said Shakti Singh Jamwal, president of the Trout Fish Farmers Association, Kullu. “The government has full-scale infrastructure of large farms and competes with us. If they sell their own fish within the state, then who will we sell to?” A fully-equipped trout farm, such as the government’s main farm in Kullu’s Patlikuhal, is infrastructure heavy. It has several raceways and tanks, a hatchery (that costs Rs 25 lakh) to process eggs, and a feed mill – that can cost anywhere from several lakhs to crores, depending on the quality and quantity of feed produced – to create fish feed.  (02 Feb. 2021)

Trout farmers exiting business Trout farm owners are exiting the business because of poor supply of seed and feed from the government and exposure to flash floods. Additionally, government farms that supply to farmers, also sell their own trout and compete with the farmers, putting them at a competitive disadvantage in the market. The fisheries department is including insurance now, for infrastructure damage and loss of livestock and wants to facilitate farmers to open their own hatcheries to meet the demand.  (10 March 2021)

Uttarakhand Govt allows ‘catch & release’ fishing in 8 specified rivers  Two years after Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to ban angling the decision has been reversed. An order to this effect, dated Nov.18, signed by the chief wildlife warden JS Suhag has been sent to all DFOs.

Wildlife experts advised caution. “If angling is permitted, the process — to make sure the fish are released back in the wild — should be monitored, as the forests are among the only remaining habitats for aquatic life. As it is, Himalayan rivers are witnessing a reduction in and migration of fish population due to various factors ranging from construction of hydropower plants, pollution, to uncontrolled fishing, irrespective of seasons,” said a scientist from the Doon-based WII.  (24 Nov. 2020)

Bihar New Ramsar site could benefit fishing community The news of Kabar Taal wetland being declared a Ramsar site has been welcomed by the environmentalists who expect a change in its present condition.

Some members of the fishing community however are not aware about the Ramsar Convention and its importance, “We are too illiterate to understand about these things. We would only consider it as good news if our livelihood improves else nothing matters. We have been watching political leaders making high promises during their polls campaigns of improving our condition but it has proved to be lip-service. The situation, in fact, has turned from bad to worse so far,” fumed Lalu Sahni, 70, who has been a fishermen for the past five decades.  (11 Dec. 2020)

Odisha Union Budget 2021-22 allocation for Paradip In May 2020, the state fisheries department had submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying asking for Rs 30 crore to modernise the state’s biggest fishing harbour at Paradip. The funds would be used to fill the infrastructure gaps and promote seafood export under PMMSY, the letter said.  (02 Feb. 2021)

Govt resumes evicting illegal prawn gherries in Chilika Removal of illegal prawn gherries (enclosure) in the Chilika Lake resumed June 24, 2021 after being briefly halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive to remove net gherries inside the lake and demolish prawn culture ponds in the fringe areas of the lake will continue for a few more days, official sources said.  (25 June 2021)

CDA starts evicting illegal prawn gherries in Chilika Supreme Court had on April 3, 2017 asked the chief justices of high courts in 15 states to take up the issue of conservation of ecology of important wetlands. Out of 26 major wetlands in 15 states, Chilika and Bhitarkanika National Park are from Odisha. The Odisha High Court then issued orders to the state government on January 22, 2019 to evict prawn farms from these two wetlands.  (01 March 2021)

Maharashtra Within a year, fisheries dept cancels contract at Yeldari dam Within a year of granting a five-year fishing contract at Yeldari dam to a society, the fisheries department has cancelled it citing violation of conditions. For the dam spread over 15,500 acres of land,the five-year contract from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2024, was awarded to a Late Rajiv Gandhi Fishermen Traders’ Cooperative Society situated at Jintur of Parbhani district for an annual royalty of Rs 3.10 lakh.

Against the granting of this contract, a local NGO named Lal Sena alleged serious loss of revenue to state exchequer as well as violation of the contract conditions and protested against the same. Taking cognizance of the same, fisheries department carried out an internal probe and found that the society had violated the contract condition by tying up with a fisheries company based in Mumbai.  (07 Dec. 2020)

Sindhudurg area named as biodiversity heritage site Govt on Wednesday (March 31) declared an area at Amboli in Western ghats in Sindhudurg district, where a rare freshwater fish species was discovered, as a biodiversity heritage site. The State government on March 31, 2021 issued a notification declaring the area at Amboli as a biodiversity heritage site. “The decision to declare the habitat of these freshwater species as the bio-diversity heritage site is taken because it is rare species, and due to fishing activities, it might have faced extinction. It was important to conserve the species,” reads the government notification.  (01 April 2021)

Mumbai gets interactive biodiversity map The map covers the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and the water bodies of Thane Creek, Mahim Bay, Vasai Creek and the Arabian Sea highlighting 17 species of flora and 78 species of fauna. It also highlights the interdependence of indigenous communities on the local biodiversity for their livelihoods.  (30 June 2021)

Telangana-Andhra Pradesh States at odds over fishing in 2 rivers Telangana fishermen are miffed that their counterparts from Andhra Pradesh enter into frequent brawls with them and ruin their business. A couple of weeks ago, around 15 Telangana fishermen were allegedly attacked by a few Andhra fishermen at Pulichintala project. This is among a series of attacks that have taken place since the bifurcation of the two states in 2014.

Following the latest brawl, the Telangana govt decided not to allow Andhra fishermen to enter into Telangana waters in the Krishna basin to catch fish. The Telangana govt is also miffed that Andhra Pradesh does not release fishlings in its reservoirs. Another bone of contention of Telangana is the issue of licence to fishermen.  (21 Aug. 2021)

Andhra Pradesh Inquiry committee on encroachment of MSN charities land in Kakinada  The government has constituted a three-member high-level committee to inquire into the alleged encroachment of land and financial affairs of the Malladi Satyalingam Naicker (MSN) Charities in Kakinada.

In 1971, a whopping 1686 acres of land, educational institutions, and three temples of the MSN Charities were brought under the purview of the Endowments Department, according to MSN Charities Pariraskshana Samithi (MSNCPS). In 1912, MSN established the MSN Charities to offer free education to the needy. Born by the Coringa river, he breathed his last in Rangoon. Belonging to the fisherfolk community, he was a ship merchant.  (06 Nov. 2021)

Telangana State bags fisheries award Telangana bagged the best award in freshwater fish production. Fish production, which was 2.27 lakh tonnes during 2014-15, increased to 3.37 lakh tonnes. The fish production has increased by about 1.50 lakh tonnes during the last seven years. The govt launched 150 retail mobile fish outlets with an aim to make fresh fish available to consumers. Telangana also became the first State to geo-tag nearly 30,000 water resources.  (21 Nov. 2021)

Tamil Nadu Move to declare Kaliveli wetlands a sanctuary  In a major push to declare Kaliveli wetlands, the second-largest brackish water lake in South India after Pulicat lake, a bird sanctuary, the Villupuram district administration has issued the first declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The decision is seen as a big win for Forest Department officials and conservationists, and their efforts to protect this wetland that remains a safe haven for diverse flora and fauna.

The first challenge will be to minimise the negative impacts of the creation of a checkdam downstream that may impact water levels and salinity but also of the plan of creating a fishing harbour in the estuary of the lagoon system downstream from the bird sanctuary, Mr. Mathevet said. “The surface area of the bird sanctuary is around 5,000 hectares while the wetlands are much larger than that. The Forest Department must work with the local communities to improve the management of the wetlands,” he added.  (03 Feb. 2021)

Kerala Oil sardine on path of revival Oil sardine, Kerala’s staple fish which had been on the decline in the state’s coast for the past many years, is on the path of revival, the CMFRI in Kochi, said on Friday (Jan. 1). However, the institute has cautioned fishers in the state about catching the sardine as they are still below the reproductive age.  (01 Jan. 2021)


Hilsa fish ban lifted after 10 years Bangladesh allows export of Padma Hilsa, the tastier variety of Hilsa to Tripura and other parts of India. Total permission to export 1450 T of Hilsa has been given. The permission to export to Tripura is after 10 years, mainly in view of upcoming Durgapuja festival.  (01 Oct. 2021)

Bangladesh Why should we conserve freshwater pangas? VERY interesting to read that PANGAS, a river fish has again been found in abundance this year in Padma river in Bangladesh, largely a byproduct of Hilsa conservation efforts. “Hilsa yield has increased over the last few years due to various programmes taken by the government, including proper conservation of juvenile and brood hilsa. As a result of the hilsa conservation programme, other fishes, including pangas, have also increased in the river. Moreover, USAID-funded Worldfish’s ECOFISH II project has been carrying out various awareness programmes for conserving pangas for the last several years.”  (22 Dec. 2020)

Controversial Water Supply Project from Halda Local government minister Md Tajul Islam on Jan 2, 2021 talked about controversial withdrawal of water from the river Halda for supplying drinking water to the under-construction Bangabandhu Industrial City at Mirsharai in Chattogram. Fisheries ministry, water resources ministry, the River Conservation Commission, the Department of Environment and independent researchers, however, expressed concern over the water treatment project initiated by the Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority at a Tk 3,500 crore for supplying water to Bangabandhu Industrial City. They demanded a review of the plan and proper feasibility study in this regard, and recommended alternative, arguing the water plant would impact Halda’s unique ecosystem that helps carps and other fishes spawn. (, 3 Jan 2021)

Govt report reveals increase in fisheries production Just released official statistics show, Bangladesh’s yearly fish output increased to 4.4 million tons (inland capture (28.45%), inland culture or farmed-fish (56.24%) and marine capture (15.31%)) now from 1.8 million tons in 2000. With over 1.2 million tons of inland water capture fish output annually, Bangladesh now contributes a tenth of the world’s total inland water capture fish production, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) states in its latest flagship report – The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. China (1.9 million tons) and India (1.7 million tons) are the only two other countries in the world that produce more inland water capture fish than Bangladesh.  (17 Jan. 2021)

Bangladesh Produces 86 per cent of the world’s hilsa, that is, 533,000 tonnes. Four years ago Bangladesh would produce 65 per cent of the world’s hilsa. India ranks second in producing this fish and Myanmar third. Hilsa is also found in small amounts in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan.

– Bangladesh ranks third, globally, in the production of freshwater fish. Despite the pitiful state of its rivers and streams, FAO says Bangladesh produces 10 per cent of the world’s freshwater fish. China is first, making up 16 per cent and India second with 14 per cent.  (27 March 2021) 

Fish production increased by 400pc in 20-yrs Fish production in Bangladesh has increased dramatically almost 400 percent in the past two decades, starting from 1.781 million metric tonnes in 2000-2001 and reaching 4.134 million metric tonnes in 2019-2020. Employment opportunities in the sector are a boon as well – official statistics show that the fisheries and aquaculture sectors (directly and indirectly) support more than 18 million people. It also showed that Bangladesh is becoming less reliant on capture fisheries and is embracing aquaculture to meet domestic and export demand.   (13 Sept. 2021)

Good economics key to good health of rivers Sheikh Rokon No doubt that rivers in Bangladesh are suffering from some big and sometimes beyond boundary issues like diversion, dams, deforestation or ‘development’ projects. A distant downstream community may not find the protest as a workable tool to stop those far-setting actions. But there are many localized issues like encroachment, pollution, chemical fishing (using chemicals to stun a school of fish), and indiscriminate sand mining. A little resistance from the community could have reduced such incidents to a great deal.  (20 Sept. 2021)

As river swallows land, villagers turn environmental refugees Frequent natural disasters have resulted in massive loss of livelihoods and mass migration in Bangladesh. People have had to change vocations and keep moving homes to keep pace with the water that is inching closer by the minute. They are caught in a debt trap.  (13 March 2021) Fascinating traditional way to deal with floods. Floating gardens — known as dhap, or locally as baira — have been used in south-central Bangladesh for 300-400 years, BBC reported.  (01 April 2021)

Nepal Ichthyologists wanted for dam greenwashing Steve Lockett The International Finance Corp of the World Bank has been a prime mover in organising events to highlight the importance of fish passes. Smaller bodies like Nepal Hydro Lab have also been involved.

Fish passes may make a dam more sustainable than not, but are they truly green just for allowing a strong swimmer like mahseer fish to be able to pass?  (06 July 2021)

Destruction caused by floodwaters in Melamchi bazaar Floods triggered by incessant rain caused massive damage to life and property in Melamchi Bazaar of Sindhupalchok district. Eight trout fish farms, Nakote bridge, farmlands at Timbu, Chanaute Bazar, Amahyalmo Buspark and City Park have also been swept away by the floods.  (16 June 2021)

Foundations for Sustainable River Management

River Continuum Concept (Vannote et al. 1980). SoANaS

Dr. Ramdevi Tachamo Shah and Dr. Deep Narayan ShahIn the already dam-regulated rivers of the Gandaki Basin, the fish population has dramatically declined and many fish species are threatened. Improper fishing practices are other threats to river ecosystems and aquatic lives.

Pakistan Fisheries action plan presented for public consultation in Sindh The FAO held a public consultation workshop under the Sindh Agriculture Policy 2018-2030 to validate a proposed Fisheries Action Plan for Sindh province.  (03 Feb. 2021)

Fishers fearful as China eyes fisheries A Chinese diplomat’s announcement that China will expand Gwadar’s fishing industry scares fishers in Pakistan’s coastal cities, who already face destitution due to dwindling catch.  (11 Feb. 2021)

Compiled by Bhim Singh Rawat (

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