A scheme under the Integrated District Development Plan (IDDP) for Kollam to cull and reduce the population of the little cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) by 70 per cent is poised to get strong resistance from environmental activists and organisations.
The IDDP is a government document prepared by the District Planning Committee.
Cormorants are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act. The IDDP scheme states that these fish eating birds are a major cause for depletion of the fish wealth in inland water bodies. Fishermen depending on inland water fishing for their livelihood have expressed concern over this for long.
The IDDP report on the scheme says that the time has come for controlling the little cormorant population. The birds are gregarious in nature and voracious fish eaters, the report says. “Anyone observing the birds in inland water bodies will certainly endorse the concerns of the fishermen.”
The scheme aims at culling 70 per cent of the birds from its present population of about 1,00,000 in the district. Under the scheme, an incentive of Rs. 5 a bird will be given to a trained person for shooting down the bird with an air gun. The scheme has an outlay of Rs. 4 lakh.
The outlay is for the cost of the air gun, pellets and training. The scheme will be implemented during 2009-2010 by the Fisheries Department in coordination with the Forest Department and the local self-government Institutions. Selected traditional inland fishermen will be trained for the purpose.
The scheme states that the birds will be hunted only during the evening time when they return to roost. Grama panchayats in the district to be covered by the scheme are: Alapad, Chavara, Neendakara, Thekkumbhagam, Thevalakara, Thrikkaruva, Panayam, Munrothuruthu, Mayyanad, Thrikadavur, West Kallada, Perayam, Karunagapally, Clapana, K.S. Puram, East Kallada, Poothakulam, Adichanallur, Panmana, the Paravur municipality and the Kollam Corporation.
State Education Officer of the World Wildlife Fund K.K. Sivakumar told The Hindu that the scheme would be strongly opposed. Terming the scheme foolish and violative of the law, he said that as the birds were covered by the Wildlife Protection Act, it was the duty of the government to protect them.
The inland water bodies were the natural habitat of the birds. He said he does not feel that the Forest Department would coordinate with the Fisheries Department in implementing the scheme. If the birds were a threat to the fish farms, the owners could use methods to keep the birds at bay and not go by any scheme to eliminate them.
Mr. Sivakumar said the WWF would create awareness against the scheme.