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Dr. Subhendu Datta Sr. Scientist CIFE, Kolkata Centre
Inland fish production As against 0.24 million tonnes of fish produced in 1950-51, the production of inland fish in the country during 2003-04 was at 3.4 million tonnes, and this increase in the fish production has placed the country on second largest producer of inland fish. Even with vast increase in production over the years it is able to provide about 8 kg/caput to the present populace (taking 56% as fish eaters) against the nutritional requirement of 11 kg. The projected domestic requirement of the country by 2020 AD is estimated at 12 million tonnes, more than ¾ of which has to come from inland sector. Inland fish production by State/UTs is given in Table 1. Table 1. Inland Fish production by states/union territories (1990 to 2002-03)
Inland water resources The river system of the country comprises 14 major rivers (catchments >20,000 km2), 44 medium rivers (catchments 2,000 to 20,000 km2) and innumerable small rivers and desert streams (catchments area <2,000 km2). Different river systems of the country, having a combined length of 29,000 km, provide one of the richest fish genetic resources in the world. The floodplain lakes are primarily continuum of rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra. These are in the form of oxbow-lakes (Mauns, Chaurs, Jheels, Beels as they are called locally), especially in Assam, Manipur, West Bengal, Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh (212.213 thosand ha). They occupy important position in the inland fisheries of India because of their magnitude as well as their production potential. Besides, the resources under ponds and tanks have been estimated at 1
2.254 million ha and in the coastal area 1.2 million ha has been identified as potential resource for finfish and shellfish farming. Riverine resources of India The inland water resources harbour the original germplasm of one of the richest and diversified fish fauna of the world, comprising 930 fish species belonging to 326 genera, out of 25,000 total fish species recorded world-wide. The major river systems of India on the basis of drainage can be divided broadly into two-(i) Himalayan river system (Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra), and (ii) Peninsular river system (East coast and West coast river system). Statewise distribution of riverine resources of India along with their lengths is depicted in Table 2 and the details of the area and potential fish yield of the major rivers are furnished in Table 3. Status of riverine fishery The rivers of India are being subjected to considerable stress and accordingly the adverse effects are being manifested in poor fish landing, both in terms of quality and quantity. The prized fisheries such as Indian major carp have either collapsed or are at the threshold of collapse. 1. GANGA RIVER SYSTEM: It is one of the largest river systems of the world, having a combined length (including tributaries) of 12,500 km. After originating from Himalayas, it drains into the Bay of Bengal after traversing a distance of 2,225 km. The Ganga river system harbours about 265 fish species, out of these 34 species are of commercial value including the prized Gangetic carps, large catfishes, featherbacks and murrels. In mountainous region, from source to Hardwar the fisheries are dominated by Schizothorax spp., catfishes, mahseer and Labeo spp. The commercial fisheries assume importance in 1,005 km middle stretch of the river (Kanpur to Farakka). The mainstay of fishery is the species belonging to cyprinidae (176 species) and siluridae (catfishes). Table 2. The profile of various river systems in India
River system Ganga Name of main river Ganga Ranganga Gomti Ghaghra Gandak Kosi Yamuna Chambal Tons Son Ken Brahmaputra Dibang, Siang, Lohit, Manas, Duri, Dihang, Dhansri, Koppili Jhelum Ghenab Beas Sutlej Ravi Mahanadi Approximate length (km) 2,525 569 940 1,080 300 492 1,376 1,080 264 784 360 4,000 State Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh, Bihar Bihar Bihar Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh Madhya Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh Assam Nagaland Sikkim Manipur Jammu and Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh, Punjab Himachal Pradesh, Punjab Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab Orissa, Madhya Pradesh
400 330 460
Godavari Krishna Cauvery Bhima Narmada Tapti Mahi
1,465 1,401 800 861 1,322 720 583
Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka Karnataka, Tamil Nadu Karnataka Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh Gujarat
Source: CIFRI, Barrackpore, W.B.
The important species are: Gangetic major carps, catfishes, murrels, clupeids and featherbacks, besides migratory hilsa. On an average, fish yield has fluctuated in the stretch between a high of 230 tonnes to a low of 12.74 tonnes during 1958-1995 and yield of major carps on kg/ha/year basis from 83.5 to 2.55 during the above period. The mean annual landings are given in Table 1.13. Table 3. Potential fish yield from Indian rivers based on their length and basin area River Length Basin Area Catch 2 (km) (million km ) Area based Stream based (tonnes) (tonnes) Himalayan Rivers Ganga 2,525 0.88 17,443 17,142 Yamuna 1,376 0.37 5,243 8,588 Brahmaputra 800 0.19 1,782 3,958 East Coast Rivers Krishna 1,401 0.26 5,434 5,365 Cauvery 800 0.09 1,791 1,917 Mahanadi 800 0.14 2,088 2,943 West Coast Rivers Narmada 1,312 0.10 4,844 2,124 Tapti 720 0.06 1,454 1,294 Mahi 533 0.02 802 446
Source: CIFRI, Barrackpore, W.B.
Table 4. Estimated mean annual landings (metric tonnes) at different centres in Ganga Centres Allahabad Buxar Patna Bhagalpur 1959-66 207.17 65.85 81.93 108.86 1973-81 129.63 43.59 85.5 NA 1981-89 128.46 25.65 70.84 62.45 1989-97 67.55 NA NA 37.79
Source: CIFRI, Barrackpore, W.B.
NA = Not available
2. BRAHMAPUTRA RIVER SYSTEM: Brahmaputra river originates from a glacier (Kubiangiri) in Tibet and has a combined length of 4,025 km including its tributaries. The upper sector of the river is not having commercial fishery of any significance. This segment harbours coldwater fishes such as Tor tor, T. putitora, T. mosal, T. progenius, Neolissocheilus hexagonolepis, and large catfish, Bagarius 3
bagarius. A total of 126 fish species belonging to 26 families out of which 41 are of commercial importance have been reported. The average catch at 4 important landing centres was estimated at 847 tonnes in 1970's. The fisheries in the upper, middle and lower stretches of the river are dominated by catfishes. In the upper middle stretch miscellaneous fishes dominate (54.14%), followed by catfishes (28.40%) and major carps (17.46%) while in middle stretch catfishes (28%) have replaced the miscellaneous fishes followed by major carps (26%) and hilsa (18%). Fisheries of lower midstretch is again dominated by miscellaneous group (34%), followed by catfishes (24%), minor carps (20%), major carps (11 %) and hilsa (7%). Prawn contribution in the total landing of the mid-stretch is restricted to only 4-7%. 3. INDUS RIVER SYSTEM: The major portion of Indus river system lies within Pakistan but its 5 tributaries, viz. Jhelum, Chinab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej originate from the western Himalayas. In headwaters of these rivers, commercial fisheries are absent. The common fish species inhabiting are Salmo trutta fario, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Tor tor; T. putitora, Schizothorax spp., Labeo dero, Gara gotyla, Botia spp. and Nemacheilus spp. The Beas and Sutlej contain indigenous carps and catfishes akin to the Ganga river. The Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir is reported to support commercial fisheries. The species caught are Schizothorax spp., Labeo dero, L. dyocheilus, Crossocheilus latius, Puntius conchonius, Cyprinus carpio (C. carpio communis and C. carpio specularis), loaches and Glyptothorax spp. 4. PENINSULAR RIVER SYSTEM: This system may be broadly categorized into (i) east coast river system, and (ii) west coast river system . EAST COAST RIVER SYSTEM. The combined length of the 4 rivers which constitutes this system, viz. Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Cauvery is about 6,437 km with a total catchments area of 121 million ha. Godavari: The headwater harbours a variety of game fishes but do not support commercial fishery. It has been observed that during 1990 the river was maintaining a fish production of 1 tonnelkm/annum. However, the commercial fisheries consist of carps (major carps and L.fimbriatus), large catfishes (Mystus spp., Wallago attu, Silonia childreni and B. bagarius) and freshwater prawn (M. malcolmosonii). Mahanadi River: The upper reaches harbour game fishes but commercial fishery is non-existent due to inaccessible terrain. The ichthyofauna is similar to that of the Ganga river with addition of peninsular species. Hilsa is confined to lower reaches and together with major carps and catfishes forms lucrative fishery. Data on fish production and catch per unit effort (CPUE) is not available. Krishna River: Several dams have been constructed on this river, which have altered the ecology of this river. Cauvery River: The water resource of the river is extensively exploited as numerous reservoirs, anicuts and barrages have been built on the river. The game fishes like Tor khudree and T. mussullah are 4
found all along length of the river except the deltaic stretch. The commercial fisheries comprise carps (Tor spp., Barbodes carnaticus, B. dubius, Neolissocheilus wynaadensis, Puntius pulchellus, Labeo kontius) and catfishes (Glyptothorax madraspatanum, Mystus spp., P. pangasius, W attu, S. childreni and Silurus wynaadensis).
WEST COAST RIVER SYSTEM The main westward flowing rivers are Narmada and Tapti. Narmada River: Narmada river harbours 84 fish species belonging to 23 genera. The contribution of carps in commercial fishery is of the order of 57 .47-62.4 % (mahseer 23.727%, Labeofimbriatus 18.2-19.2%, L. calbasu 5.2-6.4%), followed by catfishes, 24-38% (Rita spp. 12-14%, M. seenghala, 7.8-9.8%, M. aor 4.7-5%, Wallago attu 7.4-8.2%, M. cavasius 0.50.8%) and miscellaneous fishes 4-5% (Channa spp., Mastacembelus spp., N. notopterus and minnows). Tapti River: Not much information on fish stock composition and fish yield is available. About 2.6 tonnes of fish/day is captured from the river. The commercial fishery mainly consists of Tor tor; Labeo fimbriatus, L. boggut and L. calbasu among carps followed by catfishes such as Mystus spp. and W attu. RESERVOIR FISHERIES OF INDIA Reservoir resources Reservoirs constitute the single largest inland fishery resource, both in terms of resource size and productive potential. There are various estimates on the total area under reservoir in India. The National Commission on Agriculture (NCA, 1976) has estimated the total area under reservoir at 3 million ha during the mid-sixties and projected its growth to 6 million ha by 2000 AD. A detailed study made by the FAO in 1995 has estimated a total of 19,370 reservoirs in the country with a total area of 3.1 million ha. Table 5. Distribution of Different reservoirs in India Small Medium Large Number 19,134 180 56 Area (ha) 1,485,557 527,541 1,140,268 Total 19,370 3,153,366
Source: Sugunan, Reservoir Fisheries of India, FAO Fish tech. Paper No. 345, FAO, Rome
The reservoirs in the country are distributed under divergent geoclimatic, morphometric and edaphic environments. Reservoirs are generally classified as small (<1000 ha), medium (10005,000 ha) and large (>5000 ha). The distribution of small, medium and large reservoirs in India is given in Table 5. India, being a country of continental proportions, its reservoirs are spread over various types of terrains and soil types exposed to diverse climatic conditions and they receive drainage from a variety of catchment areas. Fish production from different categories of reservoirs like small, medium and large has been estimated at about 50 kg/ha/year, 12.3 kg/ha/year and 11.5 kg/ha/year, respectively, the average being about 20 kg/ha/year. This production is very low in comparison to countries such as Thailand (65 kg/ha/year), Russia (88 kg/ha/year) and Sri Lanka (100 kg/ha/year). The present low levels of production from the reservoirs is on accounts of many reasons such as lack of fish seed production and stocking, inappropriate gears and crafts, poor landings and marketing channels, absence of closed-season and other inadequate 5
management measures like weak cooperatives, stranglehold of middle-men, etc. Reservoir fish stocks and fisheries The fisheries of Indian reservoirs are constituted of both indigenous and stocked fish populations. Among the former, the Gangetic major carps occupy a prominent place in north Indian reservoir both a naturally-occurring and stocked species. In addition to this, they also harbour many species of common carps, major and minor catfishes and miscellaneous species. The important species accounting for major parts of the catch are catla, rohu, mrigal, calbasu, L. bata, P. sarana, P. chagunio, C. reba, M. aor, M. seenghala, W attu, etc. In peninsular reservoirs, the indigenous fishes forming the commercial fisheries are Cirrhinus cirrhosa, C. reba, Labeo kontius, L. fimbriatus, Labeo dussumieri, Puntius dubius, P. sarana subnasutus, Barbodes carnaticus, P. kolus, P. hexagonolepis, Tor tor, Thynnichthys sandhkhol, Osteobrama vigorsii, W attu, Aorichthys seenghala, Silonia silondia, S. children ii, P. pangasius, Pseudeutropius mitcheIIi, Horabagrus brachysoma, Mystus vittatus, etc. Indian reservoirs also harbour a sizeable population of trash fishes like Ambassis nama, Esomus danricus, Aspidoparia morar, A. mola, P. sophore, P. ticto, Oxygaster bacaila, Laubuca laubuca, Barilius barila, Osteobrama cotio, Gadusia chapra, etc. Most of the fishes compete for food with carps tending to reduce the overall fish productivity of the reservoir. Present yield and production potential from reservoirs is shown in Table 6. Table 6. Present yield and potential of production from different categories of reservoirs in India Category Present Potential Total available Average Fish Average Fish area production production production production (ha) (kg/ha) (tonnes) (kg/ha) (tonnes) Small Medium Large Total 1,485,557 525,541 1,140,268 3,153,366 49.90 12.30 11.43 29.70 74,129 6,488 13,033 93,650 100.00 75.00 50.00 77.70 148,556 39,565 57,013 245,134
Source: CIFRI, Barrackpore, W.B.
FLOODPLAIN WETLANDS What is floodplain? A floodplain is a plain land formed along the course of a river by the deposition of sediment, typically dropped by a river during periodic floods. Floodplains are the flat land or low lands bordering rivers that is subjected to periodic flooding which tend to be most expansive along the lower reaches of rivers. They are either permanent or temporary water bodies associated with rivers that constantly shift their beds especially in the lower stretches. Floodplains contain such features as levees (river embankments built by deposition as the river floods), backswamps (are located in depressions close to the raised levee banks), delta plains (A deposit of clay, silt, and sand formed at the mouth of a river where the stream loses velocity and drops part of its sediment load. Due to the resemblance with triangular shape of the letter delta '∆', the Greeks gave the name delta to such an island.), and oxbow lakes. Rivers with extensive floodplains are the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Po. Floodplains are generally very fertile, thus making them rich agricultural lands. 6
What is wetland? Wetlands, as defined by Ramsar convention, include areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters. In simpler terms, wetlands occupy the transitional zone between permanently wet and generally dry environments. They share the characteristics of both the environments, and yet cannot be classified exclusively as either aquatic or terrestrial (Maltby, 1991).
Types of Wetlands:
• MARSHES - Reeds, rushes, grasses and sedges growing in shallow water along the edge of lakes and rivers. • FRESHWATER SWAMP FOREST - herb species forests, growing on saturated or flooded soils, normally in a zone along the lower reaches of rivers. • PEATLAND - spongy waterlogged land formed as a result of slow decomposition of plant materials. • FLOODPLAIN - flat land or low land bordering rivers that are subject to periodic flooding. • MANGROVE - wood trees growing along muddy estuaries of large rivers and sheltered coastal areas. • LAKES - standing bodies of water occupying large basins or small depressions. • ESTUARINE, MARINE AND COASTAL ZONE WETLANDS - Estuaries are the contact areas between freshwater and marine environments. Marine zone wetlands consist of permanent shallow water habitats less than six metres deep at low tide. • MAN-MADE WETLANDS - such as fish and shrimp ponds, paddy fields, reservoirs, examining lakes, gravel pits and sewerage farms and canals.
There are 8 different categories of wetlands in India, differentiated by region:
• The reservoirs of the Deccan Plateau in the south, together with the lagoons and the other wetlands of the southern west coast; • The vast saline expanses of Rajasthan, Gujarat and the gulf of Kachchh; • Freshwater lakes and reservoirs from Gujarat eastwards through Rajasthan (Kaeoladeo Ghana National park) and Madhya Pradesh; • The delta wetlands and lagoons of India 's east coast (Chilka Lake); the freshwater marshes of the Gangetic Plain; • The floodplain of the Brahmaputra ; • The marshes and swamps in the hills of north-east India and the Himalayan foothills; • The lakes and rivers of the mountain region of Kashmir and Ladakh; • The mangroves and other wetlands of the island arcs of the Andamans and Nicobars. The Convention on Wetlands (at Ramsar, Iran, 1971) - called the "Ramsar Convention" - is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the "wise use", or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories. 2nd February in each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Wetlands of international importance are given the status of ‘Ramsar site'. India has 25 Ramsar sites e.g. Chilika lake (Odisha), East Kolkata wetlands (W.B), Bhoj wetland (M.P.), Deepor beel (Assam), Harike lake (Punjab), Kolleru lake (A.P.), Loktak lake (Manipur), Wular lake (J. K.), Sambhar lake (Rajasthan), Rudrasagar lake (Tripura), Ashtamudi wetland (Kerala), Bhitarkanika Mangroves (Odisha), Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) etc.
What are floodplain wetlands? Wetlands situated on floodplains of major rivers can be designated as floodplain wetlands which cover a variety of water bodies in India such as beels, jheels, mauns, pats, anoas, boars, hoars, bowrs etc. The floodplains of the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers have the distinction of nurturing some of the finest wetlands of the country, which perform a variety of social functions. These natural ecosystems have intimate relationship with mankind since their inceptions both directly (fisheries, irrigation, portable water, recreation, water for industries, etc.) as well as indirectly (recharge of groundwater, floor protection, regulation of local climate, aesthetic values, etc.). An 7
estimated 2,013,213 ha of floodplain lakes is available where fish and fisheries remain a traditional economic activity with tremendous socio-economic impact in the rural sector (Table 7). Table 7. Distribution of wetlands under Ganga and Brahmaputra valleys State River basin Area (ha) Assam Brahmputra and Barak 100,000 Bihar Gandak and Kosi 40,000 West Bengal Ghaghra and Ichhamati 42,000 Arunachal Pradesh Kaneag, Siang, Lohit, Tira, etc. 2,500 Manipur Iral, Imphal, Thoubal 16,500 Tripura Gumti 500 Meghalaya Someshvari, Jinjiran 213 Uttar Pradesh Ganga, Ghaghra 11,000 Assam: In India, Assam has maximum area under floodplain wetlands associated with Brahmputra and Barak valleys. The distribution of floodplain lakes (beels) in different parts of Assam is given in Table 8. Table 8. Distribution of floodplain lakes (beels) in different parts of Assam Regions Central Assam Lower Assam Upper Assam Bagia border Bangladesh No. of beels 342 352 376 322 Area (ha) 31,080 29,000 23,000 800 River valley/lakes Brahmputra Valley Brahmputra Valley Brahmputra Valley Barak Valley
The beels of Assam have indicated very high fish yield potential in the range of 476-2,324 kg/ha. The Assam beels have showed the pre-dominance of small fish species (Puntius spp., Chanda spp., Mystus vittatus, Nandus nandus, A. mola). Carnivorous catfish (W attu, A. coila, O. bimaculatus), air-breathing species (H.fossilis, A testudineus), murrels (c. punctatus) and featherbacks (N. notopterus) also dominate these waters. The beels of Assam are one of the prime sources of natural capture fishery dominated by small fish species including many species of ornamental Importance. The yield rates range between 14.0 and 488 kg/ha/year. The beels, however, lack scientific fishery Barak management except in a few stray cases (Boiya beel, Hailakandi and Kalpa beel, Barpeta) (Table 9). Table 9. Production of some beels of Assam Name of beel Brahmaputra Dogra Dighali Siligujan Ghorajan Sone Barchumati Average fish production (kg/ha/yr) 116 36 418 14 97 488 172
Barak Average production (Assam)
West Bengal: There are more than 150 beels in West Bengal, with an estimated water spread area of 42,000 ha. The beel ecosystem of the state largely been dominated by very rich endemic fish species. However, certain exotic species like Hypophthalmicthys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idella and Cyprinus carpio have also been introduced in these water bodies. A total of 24 endemic fish species have so far been recorded from the West Bengal beels and amongst them Puntius spp., A. mola, Channa spp., Nandus nandus, Gadusia chapra, L. bata and the Indian major carps are important. Status and yield of some productive beels are depicted in Table 10. Table 10. Status and yield of some productive beels of West Bengal District Hooghly Cooch Behar Beel Dekole Gorai chara Area Depth (ha) (m) 117.6 50.0 26 Type of beel
Closed; Open Fish Macrophyte (kg/ha/ infestation level year)
Capture fishery; closed season (January-April) Stocking, Indian major carps Stocking, Indian major carps, G. chapra Stocking, Indian major carps, grass carp, silver carp, Gudusia chapra. Catch quota 15 kg/day/person
1.0-1.8 lake like 4.0-6.8 (R. Dharala); 1.7-6.5
ox-bow lake Closed (R.Bhagirathi), ox-bow lake Closed (R.
Weed choked Moderate Moderate
13-36 325 1100
Bardhaman Bansdaha 24-Parganas
Gopalpur Ichhamati) (U131.0 4.5-12.6 shaped cutoff (Beribaor)
The fish potential of West Bengal beels indicated poor to moderate status from 43.8 to 320 kg/ha/year. The North Bengal beels with alkaline pH showed better potential as compared to South Bengal beels with acidic pH. However, fish yield of various beels has increased substantially with the adoption of various management practices. Bihar: The North Bihar (the Gandak and Kosi Basins), due to its geo-morphological features and geographical locations is bestowed with an estimated area of 50,000 ha under floodplain wetland resource. The state has oxbows (mauns) and tectonic (chaurs) types of lakes. These water bodies in Bihar have been studied in detail. Ox-bow lakes (Mauns): Chaurs and Mauns (or Mans) are formed by the shifting of river course which remains waterlogged for best part of year. Chaurs are natural tectonic depressions and Mauns (or Mans) are Ox-bow lakes, which are the cutoff portions of river meanders.
Oxbow lake is a crescent-shaped lake (U-shaped or like the shape of oxbow) that is formed when a wide meander from a stream or river is cut off from the main channel to form a lake. It is of two types: (1) The 'Live' or 'open' lakes (2) ‘Dead' or 'closed' lakes Open lake has connections with river and a dead lake has lost its all connections with the river.
As estimated, 4,735 ha area under ox-bow lake is available in the Bihar with major congregation in East and West Champaran Districts followed by Muzaffarpur, Begusarai and Samastipur (Table 11). Ox-bow lakes and abandoned river courses are one of the prime resources of fish protein in North Bihar. These lakes are in very poor state owing to high degree of eutrophication as reflected by the massive infestation of aquatic weeds, besides other indisciplined human interference. Most of the lakes are choked with weeds to the tune of 50100%, hence, they are in the advance state of swampification. The prized economic fishes, Indian major carps in particular, have either completely been eliminated or their population has dwindled to an alarming proportion. Fishes of less economic value have occupied the niche on a large-scale along with the dominance of predators. Table 11. Distribution of Ox-bow lakes in North Bihar Location/District Area (ha) East Champaran 2.076 West Champaran 1,951 Muzaffarpur 748 Begusarai 220 Samastipur 40 In spite of the fact that the ox-bow lakes of Gandak basin exhibited relatively high diversity of fish fauna, the medium-size like Notopterus spp., Mystus cavasius, Clarias batrachus, Chana gachua, Mastacembelus armatus, Mastacembelus pancalus, and big fishes like Wallago attu, Channa marulius and C. straitus dominate the fishery up to 35%. Shrimp fishery is very common in these lakes as indicated by the extensive use of a large number of traps especially during the summer months. Tectonic lakes (Chaurs): The northeast part of Bihar has a long stretch of floodplains in Gandak and Kosi basins. This part has a distinct tract of depressed landmass, the region of tectonic lakes. The series of shallow lakes locally known as chaurs exist in these areas to the tune of about 46000 ha. These water bodies support a rich biodiversity, but are biologically sensitive and fragile in nature. The major lake areas under this resource are used for fish culture are: Kabar Tal area (Begusarai), Kusheswarasthan area (Darbhanga), Sirnri Baktiarpur area (Saharsa) and Gogabeel areas (Katihar). In addition to these, Barila chaur area under Vaishali district is also important. Stocking density, however, does not seem to have been arrived at on any rational basis. Funds available at the disposal of the managers and seed availability generally govern the stocking density, hence stocking rates are highly variable. In Bhornra beel stocking density varied between 97 and 171 kg of fry/ha, in Akaipur beel, density varied between 59 and 253 kg/ha, in Kola beel the stocking rate was between 84 and 356 kg/ha and in Gopalnagar it varied between 110 and 259 kg/ha. The fish yield rate from these beels indicated differential response. Yield varied between 307 and 937 kg/ha in Bhornra, 633 and 915 kg/ha in Akaipur, 534 and 3,020 kg/ha in Kola, and 719 and 2,124 kg/ha in Gopalnagar beel. In these water bodies of the culture-based fishery, growth of fish is density dependent and mortality is size dependent. Thus, it is very important to generate advice on size at stocking and stocking density. Unfortunately, no beel is maintaining sufficient data on the size and number of fishes stocked species-wise. There is no clue on the survival rate of fishes as well. The quality and amount of data available at the beels in this regard are not sufficient to make any sound scientific findings on stocking-yield relationship. 10
Estuarine fisheries The fisheries of estuaries of India are above the subsistence level and contribute significantly to the production. The important estuarine fisheries resources of the country with their production levels are detailed in Table 12. Table 12. Important estuarine fisheries resources in India
Estuarine system Hooghly-Matlah Godavari estuary Mahanadi estuary Narmada estuary Peninsular estuarine systems (Vasista, Vinatheyam, Adyar, Karuvoli, Ponniar, Vellar, Killai, Coleroon) Chilka lagoon Estimated area level (ha) 234,000 18,000 3,000 30,000 Production (tonnes) 20,000--26,000 c.5,000 c.550 c.4,OOO c.2,000 Major fisheries Hilsa, Harpodon, Trichiurus, Lates, prawn etc. Mullets, prawns Mullets, Lates, sciaenids, prawns Prawn Mullets, prawns,
Pulicat lake Vembanad lake and Kerala backwaters
Wetlands of West Bengal (a) Freshwater bheries (b) Saline bheries
760--1,370 (20.6-37.2 kg/ha) 14,000--17,000 (fishes) (280--366 kg/ha) 88,000 (live clams) 170,000 (dead shells) 10--14 (1,258 kg/ha) c.25,500 (775 kg/ha)
Prawns, mullets, catfishes, clupeids, perohes, threadfins, sciaenids Prawns, mullets, Pearchs, Crabs, clupeids Prawns, mullets, Lates, pearlspot, Chanos Prawns, mullets, tilapia Lates
Source: CIFRI (ICAR), Barrackpore.
Estuarine fisheries resources The east-coast estuaries intermingling in the Bay of Bengal have diverse fisheries potentialities. Of all the individual species, Hilsa (=Tenualosa) ilisha has remarkably high abundance contributing 32.5 to 38.6% and 16 to 25% of the annual landings in Hooghly and Mahanadi estuarine systems, respectively. The species contributes 1 to 5% of the yearly landings in other estuaries mainly in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This lower abundance in Hilsa ilisha is attributable to geomorphological and hydrobiological conditions unconducible for breeding migration of the species to the freshwater zones of these estuarine systems. Monsoon catch of Hilsha illsha alone contributes 70-80% of the total annual landings in Hooghly as well as Mahanadi estuaries. The landings of Hilsha ilisha mainly comprises second to fifth year age groups. Mullets form an important group of fishes in all the estuarine systems with maximum contribution of 134-250 tonnes/year in Mahanadi estuary, followed by 122-150 tonnes/ year in Godavari, 53 tonnes/year in Hooghly and 1.5 - 4.2 tonnes/year in Adyar estuary. The dominant species are Mugil cephalus, Liza parsia, Valamugil cunnesius, Valamugil speileri, Liza subviridis, Liza macrolepis and Liza melinoptera. Other than mullet and Bilsha ilisha, the commercially important species in east coast estuaries are Setipinna spp., Pama pama, Trichiurus spp., Coilia spp., Sillago spp., Leiognathus spp., Lutianus spp., Barpadon nehereus, Polynemus spp., Lates calcarifer, pomfrets, etc. About 150168 species of finfishes are available in the estuaries of the east coast region. Prawns comprising mainly Metapenaeus monoceros, Fenneropenaeus (Penaeus) indicus, Penaeus monodon, Metapenaeus dobsonii, Metapenaeus affinis, Metapenaeus brevicornis, Parapenaeopsis stylifera and Penaeus sculptilis, are also equally important in the estuarine 11
annual landings. Godavari has the maximum prawn catch of 5,000 tonnes/year and Adyar estuary 2.1 to 3.8 tonnes/year. These fish fauna can be broadly divided into 3 categories: 1. Marine species migrating upstream and spawning in freshwater areas of the estuary like Bilsha ilisha, Polynemus paradise us, Sillaginopsis panijus and Pama pama. 2. Freshwater species which spawn in saline area, viz. Panagasius pangasius and Macrobrachium rosenbergii. 3. Marine forms coming to saline zone of the estuary for breeding like Arius jella, Osteogeneiosus militaris, Polynemus indicus and Polynemus tetradactylus. Estuarine fisheries of Mahanadi: Owing to lower tidal impact extending up to 42 krn only, the Mahanadi estuary does not have much variation in the species distribution pattern within the system. However, Bilsha ilisha fmd their way to the system for upstream breeding migration and eventually they form about 30 to 40% of the total estuarine landings. The other important groups, the mullets, threadfins, perches, sciaenids and catfishes constitute 30, 5.4, 3.7, 4.9 and 1.9% of the annual landings, respectively, besides prawns offer about 12.4% of the total estuarine catch. Estuaries of the Peninsular India: Godavari estuary, the major estuary in Peninsular India has an area of about 18,000 ha. Goutami is the main source of the estuarine complex in which tidal influence extends only up to 40--50 km upstream from the mouth region. Formation of sand bars in the estuarine mouth restricts the entrance of tidal water like Mahanadi estuarine system. The total production from this estuary is estimated to be about 5,000 tonnes. Mullets and prawns form the major catch of the system. Metapenaeus monoceros, M. dobsonii, M. affinis, M, brevicornis, Penaeus monodon and Fenneropenaeus (Penaeus) indicus are the important prawn species available in the lower reaches of the estuary. Backwaters of Kerala/Kayal: One of the peculiarities of the Kerala coastal zone is the presence of a number of backwaters or estuaries locally known as kayal. The kayals are blessed with natural resources and support a variety of flora and fauna. The brackish water fisheries generate a lot of employment opportunities and earn considerable amount of money through export. In Kerala, the tourism industry to some extent depends on the backwaters. Even though there are efforts to preserve these economically important wetlands but indiscriminate reclamation is on the increase to cater to the needs of growing urbanization. The most prominent among the Kerala estuaries is the Vembanad estuary located east of the Cochin-Alleppey coastal plain. Morphologically, the paddy fields (Kuttanad region) south of Vembanad estuary seems to be an extension of Vembanad estuary. This reclaimed parts form a very important wetland category and a type locality for Kerala coastal wetlands. Estuaries of the northwest coast: Gujarat, the western most part of India, has the longest shoreline (1,600 km) among the maritime states of India. The Gulf of Cambay is characterized by a number of large and small estuaries. All major estuaries like Tapi, Narmada, Mahi, Sabarmati, Mik and Dhadhar are marked by flared outlines and tidal meanders, except the Narmada estuary. The Narmada estuary is classified as a salt-wedge estuary where freshwater flow predominates. The Tapi, Narmada, Mahi and Sabarmati estuaries bifurcate around island and have appreciable in-filling and hence are called estuarine delta. River Narmada is having an estuarine stretch of about 120 km which ends in Gulf of Cambay. Gradual decline in tidal ingress is being observed due to development of sand bars at the mouth region of the estuary. From 10 years records during 1973-82, the average annual production of the estuarine system has been estimated to be about 4,000 tonnes in which as 12
group hilsa predominates (40-45%, average 1,662 tonnes), followed by mullets (15-20%, average 687 tonnes) and prawns (5-8%, average 287 tonnes). Miscellaneous species contributed 30-38% (average 1,520 tonnes) of the total landings. The fishing potential estimated in a survey during 1986-87 indicated that 2,884 fishermen are actively engaged in fishing activities in the system with 103 boats (non-mechanized) and about 28,000 nets. Gill nets are in maximum use (26,414 nos.) in the lower zone of lhe estuary. Hilsa forms the major catch of these gills nets (8085%). Cast nets are mainly used for prawn fishing. Besides these, the seedlings of freshwater giant prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) form an important fishery resource in mixooligohaline and limnetic zones of the system. Coldwater fisheries The ecological conditions of the fishery resources of the upland areas namely coldwater streams, brooks, rivers, natural and man-made lakes are quite different from that of the plains. There are 2 types of streams namely snow-fed and spring-fed. These streams are characterized by rocky and gravelly bottoms, high transparency, low temperature, high oxygen level due to high velocity and continuous water flow and their primary and secondary productivity are low. Temperature plays a crucial role in the occurrence and distribution of fishes in these areas. The other factors, which play key role in the distribution of fishes, are swiftness of current, nature of substratum and availability of food. The fishes of the upland water-bodies have either strong power of locomotion (mahseer) or have developed special organ of attachment (Garra and Glyptostemoids) in the fast turbulent streams. These fishes are of small size in contrast to the warmwater fishes. On the basis of temperature tolerance, the fishes of the upland areas are classified into eurythermal type (wide range of temperature tolerance i.e. Schizothorax and Barilius) and stenothermal type (narrow range of temperature tolerance i.e. exotic trout). The common fishes inhabiting the upland streams of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, North West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Nilgiris, Kodai hills and Munnar high range of the Peninsular Indian rivers are presented in Table 13. The estimated coldwater fisheries resources are shown in Table 14. Table 13. Common coldwater fishes of upland areas of the Himalayas and Peninsular plateau
Group Mahaseer Family/sub-family Fish species Indigenous fish stocks Cyprinidae/Cyprininae Tor putitora, T. tor, T. khudree, T. mosal, Tor malabaricus,Neolissocheilus hexagonolepis, N. wynaadensis Cyprinidae/Cyprininae Schizothorax plagiostomus, S. progasrus, Schizothoraichthys scurvifrons, S. niger Cyprinidae/Rasborinae Barilius bola, B. barila, B. vagra Cyprinidae/Cyprininae Labeo dero, L. dyocheilus Cobitidae Botia spp., Nemacheilus spp. Sisoridae Glyptothorax pectinopterus, Glyptosternum venticulatum Exotic fish stock Salmonidae Salmo gairdenri (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Salmo trutta fario, Salvelinus fontinalis Cyprinidae Cyprinus carpio communis, C. carpio specularis, C. carpio nudus Cyprinidae Tinea tinea
Snow trout Brails Minor carp Loaches Catfishes
Trout Common carp Trench
Source: NRC-CWF (ICAR), Bhimtal.
Table 14. Coldwater fisheries resources of India Resources River length 8,243 km (Upper reaches of 16 big and small rivers in Himalayan and Peninsular region) Natural lakes 20,500 ha (Nearly 30 high mountain and valley lakes both in Himalayas and Peninsular region) Reservoirs (man-made) 2,65,000 ha (Nearly 12 located in Himalayan and Peninsular region)
Source: NRC-CWF (ICAR), Bhimtal.
The population pressure has adversely affected the fragile upland ecosystem. The resource ecology, the aquatic habitat and their biodiversity are all under grave stress due to felling of forest trees, damming of rivers and streams. To add to the malaise, the natural calamities of rock-falls, landslides, avalanches, cloudbursts worsen the situation. As a result, the ecosystems such as the valley lakes in Kashmir, Kumaon lakes, Doty lake in the Western Ghats and Loktak Lake in Manipur have reached higher tropic levels and as such can not sustain fish species which they used to earlier. Approximate resources of coldwater region in India are given in Table 15. Table 15. Area-wise list of different kinds of natural water-bodies in the Indian uplands Particulars of water-body Stream length/area Himalayan and Deccan Plateau river system 8,310 km 1. Brackishwater lakes (above 3000 msl) 2,390 ha 2. Freshwater natural lakes (1,500-2,000 msl) 18,150 ha 3. Kashmir high mountain lakes (above 3000 msl) 400 ha 4. Valley wetland ecosystems 3,000 ha 5. Shiwalk Himalayan lakes 74 ha Central Himalaya 1. Freshwater lakes of Kumaon 355 ha Himalayan manmade lakes and reservoirs 43,770 ha Peninsular zone 1. Natural lakes 85 ha 2. Man-made lakes and reservoirs 4,400 ha
Source: NRC-CWF (ICAR), Bhimtal.
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