Aquaculture dents prospects of fishermen in Chilika Lake

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 13 (ANI): Rapid expansion of the prawn farming industry in Chilika Lake in Orissa dented the business prospects of fishermen of the region.

Chilika Lake is a brackish lagoon, spread over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of the State on the eastern coast. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world.

The lake is home to a number of species of plants and animals, which are vulnerable. It provides livelihood to around 1,50,000 fishermen living near the shore of the lake.

The fishermen alleged that complicated nylon nets spread all over the lake, which are used in prawn farming, traps the small-sized fishes. The commercial cultivators tend to throw the small fish away.

"We catch fishe like Rohu (Labeo Rohita), Bhakura (Gibelion Catla) and Khainga (milk fish) from this lake. Earlier we used to earn quite well. But when the commercial cultivators immersed the illegal barricades into the lake, the fish production dropped down, which forced most of the fishermen to leave Chilika," said Sumanta Behera, a fisherman.

For centuries, fishermen evolved fishing through a complex system of partitioning the areas of the lake, and harvesting fish in a sustainable manner.

Now, vast areas of brackish water now can be seen cordoned on the fringes of the lake by bamboo poles and nets, which have reduced the fish population in the middle of the lake. At the same time, a large part of the lake has been declared prohibited for fishing.

The Chilika Development Authority has cited unorganised fishery as the key reason for low fish production and is planning to develop new and improved methods to boost the livelihood of the local fishermen.

"The fish production is going down because there are no organized fisheries. That is why we want that there should be a managed fishery instead of an unorganised fishery. At the same time, we want to provide an alternative way of earning livelihood for the fishermen to reduce the pressure on the lake, as the population is increasing," said Ajit Pattnaik, Chief Executive Officer of Chilika Development Authority.

"The State government is making plans to introduce a legislation to remove the illegal barricades for prawn cultivation to safeguard the interests of the local fishermen," he added. (ANI)

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