Sand Mining a Threat to Western Ghats Fish Species

Published: 12th July 2015 03:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2015 03:38 AM   |  A+A-

MANGALORE:Sand miners and the district administration have been at loggerheads ever since the authorities banned mining on river beds from June 10 during the monsoon. Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim had taken steps to stop miners from forming underwater sand dunes in rivers to save the fish progeny.

Sources in the environment and ecology department told Express that it was a step in the right direction since established studies have proved that phytoplankton and zooplankton, which are nutrition to many types of fish progeny, would be washed away if sand mining was allowed during monsoons.

Sources quoting a report from the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) say freshwater fish are the most threatened group in peninsular India, with more than a 37 pc at risk of global extinction.

For example, the endangered Deccan Mahseer (Tor khudree), is one of the most sought-after food fish. Sadly, due to overharvesting, invasive species and pollution, it has declined sharply in the past decade.

Another iconic species of fish, Miss Kerala (Puntius denisonii), is also classified as endangered, as it is targeted and caught indiscriminately by ornamental fish traders and its habitat is being impacted by pollution from plantations and urban areas and from sand mining.

“Pilikula Nisarga Dhama, in an attempt to collect and conserve the Western Ghats and coastal river variety fish has collected 28 varieties of fresh water fish from the rivers emanating from the Western Ghats. There were over 218 fish varieties in the rivers that originate in the Western Ghats,” said the director of the wildlife enclosure at Nisarga Dhama, which was the  first to launch conservation of fresh water fish varieties of the Western Ghats after IUCN released a Red List on the depletion of freshwater fish in the region.

Experts in the fisheries college affiliated to the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Science University, Bidar say it is evident the monsoon is a breeding season for both marine and freshwater fish. Allowing sand mining during monsoon amounts to wilful destruction of fish progeny, they add.

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