Fish count in Vembanad yields 98 species

Presence of jellyfish in large numbers poses problems for fisherfolk

June 01, 2019 10:53 pm | Updated 10:53 pm IST - Alappuzha

Volunteers taking part in the Vembanad fish count organised under the aegis of ATREE.

Volunteers taking part in the Vembanad fish count organised under the aegis of ATREE.

The Vembanad fish count, an annual survey which evaluates fish diversity in central Kerala’s Vembanad Lake, has recorded the presence of 98 species of fish this year.

The survey was conducted in different parts of the lake on May 29, 30, and 31 under the aegis of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE). The study was the 12th in a series of annual surveys by ATREE.Previous survey

A team consisting of members of ATREE, researchers and fishermen conducted fish counts at six locations. On May 30, the fish count was conducted in the southern part of the lake. As many as 43 fish species were identified from Thanneermukkom, Punnamada and Kayippuram. The team surveyed the northern side of the lake including Arookutty, High Court and Murinjapuzha on May 31, and recorded 50 species. The survey also identified five shellfish species in the backwaters.

The last annual fish count conducted in May 2018 had recorded around 110 species in the lake. A post-flood Vembanad fish count conducted in December 2018 to determine the impact of the August deluge on fish diversity and Vembanad Lake had identified the presence of 115 fish species.

High salinity

Anu Radhakrishnan and Manija Murali of ATREE, who coordinated the fish count, said the salinity in the southern side of the lake was slightly higher on account of opening of shutters of the Thanneermukkom bund.

They said that deficient rains and increased salinity in the waters had facilitated breeding of jellyfish in high numbers. The presence of jellyfish in the lake is a cause for concern.

Livelihood schemes

“The fishermen are suffering losses due to the presence of jellyfish. When the fishermen cast their nets in the lake, the nets are loaded with jellyfish. This has resulted in a decline in freshwater fish catch. Removal of jellyfish from fishing nets involves a lot of effort. It is also causing health problems to the fishermen. The government should introduce alternative livelihood programmes for fishermen who are dependent on the Vembanad lake,” they said.

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