Kerala

Concern over anchoring of fishing boats in Kadalundi estuary

The anchoring of fishing boats in Kadalundi estuary is posing a threat to the ecologically sensitive mudflats and mangroves within the Kadalundi-Vallikkunnu Community Reserve (KVCR). Fishing boats from neighbouring places like Parappanangadi and Beypore have been increasingly seeking Kadalundi estuary for anchorage since the COVID-19 lockdown.

The KVCR authorities, environmentalists, forest officials and scientists have warned that fishing boats in abundance can negatively affect KVCR, the first community reserve in the country. The oil that spills from boats and the increased movement of personnel working in boats within the ecologically fragile areas can negatively affect migrant birds that seek sanctuary in Kadalundi during the wintering months.

Sensitive issue

However, as it is a social issue involving the livelihood of fishermen, the authorities have been cautious in their approach.

The Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS) and the KVCR managing committee raised concerns about Kadalundi’s ecological degradation in a recent meeting convened by the forest authorities in Kozhikode.

“It is a sensitive issue, but it should be addressed for the conservation of the KVCR. There has been a perceptible decrease in the number of migrant birds arriving at Kadalundi,” said MNHS president Satyan Mepayur, quoting scientists from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

CMFRI marinologists validated the adverse effects that increased presence of fishing boats in the estuary can cause on the mudflats that remain the lifeline for migrant birds.

Thousands of migrant shorebirds belonging to species ranging from sand plovers to sand pipers have been reaching Kadalundi from across continents during winter. Lesser sand plover remains the most popular among the 50-odd species identified at Kadalundi, one of the most popular wintering destinations along the west coast of India.

Safe tourism

P. Sivadasan, chairman of the KVCR managing committee, told The Hindu that increased presence of fishing boats would badly affect not only migrant birds, but also the tourism that they were promoting.

“We are sanctioning only country boats with oars as part of promoting safe and sensitive tourism. If we don’t address in time such issues as waste and oil spill, the community reserve will die soon,” said Mr. Sivadasan.

According to Mr. Satyan, the ecological changes taking place at Kadalundi would have cascading effects. The conservation of the mudflats had become the need of the hour, he said. T.R. Athira, who has been studying the habits of shorebirds reaching Kadalundi since 2016, said that there was a major change in the estuarine ecology after the back-to-back floods of 2018 and 2019. Sand dunes have increased, mangroves have proliferated and “ecological incursions of grave nature” have taken place at Kadalundi.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:00:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/concern-over-anchoring-of-fishing-boats-in-estuary/article33679439.ece

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