Floodplain fishing continues unabated in Kerala

Local people engaged in fishing in a canal and submerged paddy field at Manappullikkavu, Palakkad | File   | Photo Credit: K. K. Mustafah

Floodplain fishing (Oothapidutam in local parlance) continues unabated in the State despite the Kerala Fisheries Department banning the practice after it was found that it could lead to the extinction of several endemic species.

Enthusiastic fishers were seen catching fish that migrated from large fresh waterbodies to inland waterbodies and wetlands for breeding and laying of eggs during the past few days when the State received heavy showers.

Usually, the migration of fish begins with the onset of monsoon. The flooding of inland waterbodies following the heavy downpour provides a suitable habitat for the migratory movement, pairing, and deposition of eggs, pointed out fisheries experts.

The Kerala Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, 2013 and 2015 (Amendments) had banned the fishing of brood fishes. The violation of the provisions of the act can attract a fine up to ₹10,000 and imprisonment up to three months.

The major endemic species caught during the critical phase of their life cycle are Vala (Wallago attu), Manjakkoori or yellow cat fish (Horabagrus brachysoma), Kuruva (Systomus sarana), Kaari or Stinging catfish (Heterpneuests fossils), Climbing perch (Anabas tesudineus) striped channa or braal (Channa striata) and Murrel or Cheran (Channa pseudomarulius). These species fetch good price in the local market, prompting fishers to go in for the varieties. The fishing of brood fish is a serious threat to the survival of many inland fishes including the endemics like the Labeo dussumieri, experts said.

Fisheries experts suggested notifying the ban order in concurrence with the monsoon onset predictions issued by the Indian Meteorological Department. The ban shall come into force at least a fortnight before the onset of the monsoon, they suggested.

Responding to the developments, Tinku Biswal, Secretary, Fisheries, said steps would be taken for the strict implementation of the provisions of the Act and end such practices. The ban on it usually comes into operation from June. Directions will be issued for curbing the illegal practice without delay, said Ms. Biswal.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 10:06:01 PM |

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