KOCHI: The government has initiated various projects, including restoration ranching and establishment of fish sanctuaries to boost inland fish stock, with an aim to protect and restore endangered native fish species.
However, experts and officials engaged in the activities feel that in the absence of a comprehensive long-term plan and an integrated approach with active involvement of various departments, including the Fisheries, Local Self Government, Agriculture, Irrigation and Environment, the projects may not achieve their desired results.
It is a fact that fish sanctuaries are being set up in coordination with the local self-governments in the respective areas. But, for the sustainable restoration of many species, including fish and shrimp varieties that make breeding migration, an integrated approach should be made,” pointed out senior officials at the Fisheries Department. “What is the purpose of establishing fish sanctuaries where pollution levels remain unchecked?” officials quipped.
For example, the State Fisheries Resource Management Society (FIRMA ) is in the last leg of setting up a fish sanctuary in the Valappattanam river in Kannur, one of the most polluted rivers in the State, primarily to restore ‘attu konchu’ (lobster). Unchecked river pollution, depletion of mangrove cover and disruption of breeding migration routes will remain a major problem in the long-term restoration of the native variety. The basic reasons behind scarcity of the species in the river remain un-addressed.
FIRMA executive director S Sivadasan said there are a number of native species that need to be conserved and protected, including channa diplogramma (Varal), cat fish and aattu konchu. “Work on setting up seven big fish sanctuaries is nearing completion in the State. Restoration efforts, including setting up of sanctuaries, are expected to make positive changes. But, it needs long-term monitoring and scientific analysis to ascertain the real effect of the initiatives,” he added.
“Though many freshwater fish species migrate for breeding bunds, dams and regulators block their routes and push them into extinction. Restoration measures need to address such issues and it is better to have coordinated inter-departmental initiatives,” said Joint Fisheries director Dr Dineshan Cheruvatt. “Many countries have adopted creative approaches like providing fish ladders to avoid obstruction of fish migration routes. Even dams were demolished to restore the migratory path of salmon fish,” he pointed out.