Where Have all the Big Fish Gone?

Dried-up reservoirs and water bodies have left fishermen bereft of a good catch and pushed prices sky-high.

Published: 22nd April 2016 05:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2016 05:08 AM   |  A+A-

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BENGALURU: With the water levels in tanks and reservoirs dipping, fish rearers and consumers alike are looking skyward and praying for rain. While bigger varieties of fish have become rare and their price gone up drastically, smaller fish in market are not a match in taste.

Karnataka has over 5.60 lakh hectares of inland water resources with 1.72 lakh hectares of tanks under the department, and 2.67 lakh hectares of reservoirs apart from rivers and canals. The annual fish potential from these resources is around 2.75 lakh metric tonnes.

Dr Ramakrishna, Joint Director (inland fisheries) said with the drought, the fisheries industry has been affected. Reservoirs have reached dead storage level. As the rivers dried up, fishermen’s livelihoods were hit. 

Ramakrishna said that the Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir in Mandya district, spread across 13,000 acres, has reduced to 3,000 acres. He said little fish take about eight to nine months to grow. “It requires at least eight months for a little fish to grow big and come to weigh 900 gm to 1 kg,” he said.

According to Karnataka Fisheries Department officials, water level should be at least at five feet for rearing fishes. But at least half of the reservoirs are dried up. An official said that 2,800 people had renewed their tank licences by paying Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh per tank to the Fisheries Department, in the hope that it would rain.

“They have released fish seeds (fertilised fish eggs) in those tanks. With no water in those tanks, the fish seeds are dying. In this year, the Fisheries Department has received Rs 6 crore from the farmers, who applied for renewal,” the official said.

He added that around three lakh fisherman are facing effects of the drought.

S Madegowda, president of Karnataka State Cooperative Fisheries Federation, said that Karnataka was getting from states such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. “It requires 10 months to complete a fish-rearing cycle. We release fish seeds in May and harvest it in March and April. Now that the water levels have come down, the size of the fish is also reduced, which, in turn, affects the taste,” he said.

Madegowda added that the price has almost doubled for the bigger fish. “Katla, that was available for Rs 150 a kg, is now sold at Rs 250 to Rs 300 a kg. Big fish are rare now and these are bought by the rich. The poor and the middle-class get the smaller fish,” he said.

Types of fish reared in tanks and lakes

Katla, Common Carp fis, Rohu fish, Grass Carp fish, Tilapia

Fish numbers

5.60 lakh hectares of inland water resources

2.67 lakh hectares of reservoirs 

1.72 lakh hectares of departmental tanks

Expert Panel on Yettinahole Project Soon

The state government will constitute an expert committee to explore alternative sources of water for Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru and Ramangaram, said Water Resources Minister M B Patil here on Thursday. He informed this to a team of the Yettinahole Action Committee. Meanwhile, in Mangaluru, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that the Yettinahole project “will never fail”. He told reporters, “I have directed experts to study and submit reports on alternative drinking water sources like the Sharavathy.”

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