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Posted at: May 26, 2018, 2:01 AM; last updated: May 26, 2018, 2:01 AM (IST)

Beas spill: Food scarcity to hit dolphins, gharials

Experts conduct survey to prepare action plan for rearing fish
Beas spill: Food scarcity to hit dolphins, gharials

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25

Tonnes of fish which died due to the molasses’ spill in the Beas were supposed to breed in the coming monsoon. This implies that there will be hardly any addition to the fish population, leading to acute shortage of fish for a few more years.

As fish is the main diet of Indus dolphins and gharials in the Beas, these creatures will face an acute shortage of food.

Anticipating a long-term damage to fish biodiversity, experts of wildlife, fisheries and the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) are preparing an action plan to restore the aquatic balance.

It has been observed that to streamline the fish population dynamics and conservation, it may take another three years to regain normalcy for the aquatic life in the Beas river.

Starting from the upstream, an extensive survey is being done to determine the most-affected stretch of the river between Harike and Karmuwal.

WWF’s field researcher on Bio-monitoring Indian Rivers project Gitanjali Kanwar said, “Undoubtedly, the damage was massive. The challenge before us is not only to repopulate the fish but to also ensure the survival of dolphins and gharials. They will have little choice but to eat other organisms. We have been keeping a constant watch on them. To date, we located five dolphins and 17 gharials,” she said.

She said inter-department experts were conducting a fresh survey of the Beas to gauge if there were any dead organisms or if there was any unusual behaviour of the species. This study will help to prepare the action plan of rearing the varieties of fish that existed in the Beas.

On the other hand, the Fisheries Department has submitted a proposal with the government seeking directions to arrange the fish seed.

There are 44 estimated varieties of fish in the Beas, most of them are vulnerable. Deputy Director of Fisheries Department Raj Kumar said seeds of rohu, catla and mrigal were available in government-run fish farms, whereas seeds of cat fish like singhara, malhi, chital and sole would have to be arranged from fish farms located in West Bengal and the southern side.

Though no commercial fishing, netting or hunting in the conservation area between Harike and Karmuwala is allowed, the Fisheries Department has recommended a blanket ban on the same in the Beas river for the next two years so that the progenies could prosper.

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