Water pollution, drought endanger Punjab fish

Fisheries department releasing 25m juvenile fish annually to save aquatic ecosystem


Asif Mehmood August 16, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE:

Fish in Punjab’s rivers, lakes and other water bodies are becoming endangered due to pollution and drought.

Punjab Fisheries Department releases millions of juvenile fish into the province’s rivers every year to save not only aquatic life but also to fulfill t population’s nutritional needs. The provincial fisheries department had farmed more than 25 million juvenile fish for the next season.

According to the department’s officials, more than 25 million fish are farmed and released in Punjab’s waters every year as part of preserving certain species and to ensure an overall balanced aquatic ecosystem. On the other hand, a report presented by the fisheries department in Punjab Assembly stated that seven species of fish were in danger of extinction.

A total of 118 species of fish were found in the rivers, lakes, headworks and water bodies of Punjab, including eight foreign species. According to the fisheries department report, the species of Mahashir fish was endangered in Punjab, while the population of at least six species of fish in Punjab has significantly reduced. The department acknowledged in the report that the species of fish that were endangered included Malhi, Khaga, Pari, Palu and Sanghara.

However, the department did not clarify if effective steps were being taken to save the species and repopulate Punjab’s rivers. The two million fish prepared at Manawan Fish Hatchery in Lahore yielded more than 500,000 fish seeds. More than 200,000 juvenile fish were being released into the Ravi river. Manawan Fish Hatchery Manager Abdul Rehman said that many types of fish seeds were being prepared in the hatchery.

However, among them, Rahu, Mori and Thela were notable, he added.

“Juvenile fish is ready in a year and a half. Out of the fish seeds produced in the hatchery, 300,000 to 400,000 are purchased by private fish farmers, while more than 200,000 juvenile fish will be released in different parts of Ravi river. As these fish grow, they move forward with the flow of water.”

Lahore Fisheries Deputy Director Sajid Mahmood told The Express Tribune that water in Punjab's rivers and natural waters was declining and even if there was some water, pollution was also increasing due to which the fish produced naturally in the rivers had become endangered. Punjab fisheries department is actively working to make up for this shortage.”

On the instructions of Punjab Fisheries Director General Dr Sikandar and Director Saima Sadiq Mir, juvenile fish were being farmed and released in various parts of rivers and other water bodies. He said that fish up to 72 hours old were around 1.5 inches long. Sualeha, a local resident, said people often think that the fish sold in the market may be grown in the rivers but they will be surprised to know that the provincial fisheries department releases juvenile fish in the rivers.

“When the fish grow up, they are brought to the market. We have to do our part to protect our rivers, canals, lakes and other water bodies from pollution."

She added that the juvenile fish was stocked at Chandianwali post, Narowal on the Ravi river. “Sialkot’s Kotli Araian Kaian Fish Hatchery Assistant Director Mian Ghulam Qadir and his team stocked juvenile fish in the Ravi river.

There is a constant shortage of fish in natural waters, including river, for which juvenile fish are being brought from various hatcheries and nurseries across Punjab and released in these waters so that fish production can be increased.”

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