New panel to study effects of effluents on fish, help restore marine ecology

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 27 November 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The state fisheries department has set up a committee to study the effects of industrial pollution on fish in Maharashtra's coastal waters.

In a government resolution, the fisheries department has directed the study of waters at creeks, estuaries and the sea to ascertain the effect of pollution on fish and how it has impacted the livelihood of the fishing community. The committee will then suggest ways to restore the marine ecology as well as rehabilitate the affected fisherfolk.

The committee has been set up following an assurance given by the state government to the legislature during the monsoon session for carrying out such a study. The assurance came after legislators raised the issue of decline in catch in recent years and the consequences it had on the livelihood of the fishing community.

But Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machimar Kruti Samiti, has rubbished the setting up of the committee, saying nothing would come out of its recommendations. "About a decade ago, the late chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, sanctioned Rs 10 crore to clean up the Mumbai coast. Where did the money go? All you get today even when you go 3-4km into the sea, is nothing but polythene bags and sewage," he said. "No government, till date, has done anything."

Tandel pointed out that they could not find any catch at Lothe-Parshuram in Ratnagiri district and similar was the case at Roha, Tarapur-Boisar. "Not very long ago, we would fish close to the shore. But now there is oil and sludge," he said.

D Stalin, director of NGO Vanshakti that has filed a PIL on the pollution of the Ulhas river, said testing of the river water shows a very high concentration of mercury. Former corporator from Sahar village Nicholas Almeida has also filed a PIL against the polluting of rivers by effluents from industrial units. "As all rivers flow into the sea, one can well imagine the extent of pollution in the sea and subsequently in the food chain. Till date, there is no study on health hazards from marine pollution," said Stalin. He added the sewage content in the waters is so high that only species, such as sardine and tilapia, can be found in abundance in creeks around the coast as they have the ability to survive in highly contaminated water. Apparently, other kinds of fish can hardly be found nowadays.

Tandel pointed out that fish came close to the shore and bred among mangroves. "But large tracts of mangroves are also being destroyed. All these ate taking a toll on our livelihood. On an average, 50% of the boats are always anchored at the shore," he said.

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