The sixth edition of the Vembanad Fish Count, held here on May 23 and 24, found that the number of fish species decreased from 62 in last year’s fish count to 58 species this time.
Out of the 58 species found this year, 44 belong to finfish species, 10 crustaceans and 4 mollusks. The decrease of ‘puntius’ genus of fish was reported in almost all the areas from Thanneermukkom to Alappuzha stretch of the Vembanad lake in which the fish count was conducted this year.
This may be due to the increase in saline intrusion into the lake due to the opening of Thanneermukkom barrage. However, pearl spot (etroplus suratensis) was found in large numbers in Muhamma area.
Those engaged in fish count warned that the catching of young ones of pearl spot would lead to their shortage in the next year. The rare species, Eleotrius Fusca, was found this year also.
Another interesting observation is that the parasite ‘Alitrops’ was destroying the young ones of pearl spot in a big way. The finding of Glossogobius giurus fish from the lake showed that the pollution in the lake had come down.
Cat fish, yellow cat fish (Horabagrus Brabhysoma) and jelly fish were reported from Thanneermukkom area. The fish count workers demanded immediate steps to protect the fish species in the lake.
Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (KUFOS), Kerala State Biodiversity Board, St. Albert's College, Ernakulam, Conservation Research Group, Regional Agricultural Research Station of Kerala Agricultural University, Vembanad Nature Club and various lake protection groups participated in the Fish Count 2013.
Inaugurating the valedictory function, B. Madhusoodana Kurup, vice-chancellor, KUFOS, said the influx of thilapia which had now taken over the lake once dominated by pearl spot in the 1980s was a sign of the decline of the indigenous species. “The lake, once 40,000 sq ft, has now shrunk into 34 per cent of its earlier size. The number of fish species in the lake is on a decline every year,” he said. Pratibha Hari, district panchayat president, presided over the programme. Benno Pereira of St Alberts College, Ernakulam, explained the major findings of Fish Count 2013. Deputy director of Fisheries, Alappuzha, C.K.Rajan and ATREE senior fellow, Priyadarshan Dharmarajan spoke.