Wildlife body seeks breeding season ban on river fishing

June 18th, 2009 - 2:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 18 (IANS) A wildlife body Thursday demanded a ban on fishing in rivers and natural lakes in Orissa during the breeding season, as this was leading to a decline in the population of fresh water fish.
“The state has a breeding season ban only in the sea and the reservoirs from April 15 to June 15 but fishing is yet to be prohibited in the rivers and natural lakes,” Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa told IANS.

The rivers are the critical breeding grounds for fresh water fish and lack of a ban is leading to a dwindling population, he noted, adding the state government should impose a two month fishing ban in rivers and natural lakes from June 15 to Aug 15 - the period when fish breed - to protect them.

Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have already banned fishing in rivers and lakes during the breeding season, he said.

Mohanty said they had been demanding the ban for the last ten years, claiming unregulated fishing is driving some fish population to extinction.

“Migratory fish like hilsa which travel long distances inland through rivers like the Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Subarnarekha, etc. are highly affected. Similarly, mullets (khainga) which migrate to the sea for spawning are also becoming rare. Gravid or egg bearing fish are prevented from crossing the river mouths nets,” he said.

“Since the last six years, hilsa migration has been regularly failing in Mahanadi river and the fish has become rare in the state. Hilsa obtained from West Bengal is now sold in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar at exorbitant prices of Rs.400 per kg,” he said.

He also said the state was critically dependent for fish imports upon Andhra Pradesh which supplies nearly 60,000 tonnes of freshwater fish every year to meet the high local demand.

“At present, fish markets are full of gravid fish and prawns. Almost all fresh water fish like rohu, mrigal, cat fish etc, are full of eggs which in normal course would have hatched and replenished wild fish populations,” he said.

However, Bishnupada Sethi, director of state fisheries department, told IANS: “Such a ban requires legislation as well as understandings at various levels. Especially the fishermen communities need to understand the importance of such a step.”

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