Mathsyathavalams' to preserve fish wealth

Evaluation reveals healthy reproductive populations in sanctuaries.

ALAPPUZHA: Fish sanctuaries (Matsyathavalams) have been set up in five areas of Vembanad lake to protect and increase the fish wealth. The traditional paddal system (bush-bark fishing) is used for constructing the sanctuaries.

The paddals are fixed to the lake bed and bamboo fencing is provided to prevent other fishermen from entering it. The areas around the sanctuaries have been declared off-limit zones.

This is the initiative of the Community Environmental Resource Centre (CERC) of Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) along with Mannanchery grama panchayat and Federation of Lake Protection Forums with the support from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Kerala.

According to Mr. T.D. Jojo, project coordinator, CERC-ATREE, “the bundles of submerged foliage (paddals) provide an ideal habitat for the fishes and the fishermen can catch the entire fishes in the area.”

Mr K.M. Poovu, secretary, Lake Protection Forum, said the fishermen avoid fishing in these areas and keep a vigil to prevent fishing within the non-fishing zones.

An independent evaluation of the sanctuary conducted by a group of fishery experts found healthy reproductive populations and large shoals of fish larvae in the sanctuaries compared to other similar locations in the lake.

The Kuttanad water balance study had revealed that nearly 150 species of fishes were found in Vembanad lake before the commissioning of Thannermukkom barrage which have plummeted to 58 species.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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