Sindh’s depleting fish
Ghulam Nabi Mughul
July 4, 2011: Fish experts also complain that rapidly
declining mangroves in the coastal areas is another cause of
fall in fish production.
Production of most species of sweet water and marine fish
including Palla and prawn has drastically declined in Sindh
over the past quarter century.
According to a rough estimate, production of Palla, during
this period, the delicious fish of Sindh, has gone down at
least by 80 per cent, while the output of various other fish
species and prawns has also dropped by 50 per cent. But, the
most alarming is the fall in Palla yield. According to a
source, this year the output of Palla in the Indus was
The reason behind this sharp drop is the nominal flow of
fresh water into the Indus downstream Kotri in the last 10
to 15 years. According to experts, in the past fresh water
used to flow in the Indus downstream Kotri by May and
continued till August. During this period, Palla used to lay
eggs in seawater and then reaching the river’s sweet water,
it used to start swimming against the current towards
upcountry via the Indus. Its size and weight increased
during this period. But for the last over 25 years water was
virtually not allowed to flow downstream Kotri, which led to
gradual extinction of this species.
A number of causes are being attributed to the fall in the
output. These include reduced fresh water flow into the
Indus River; toxic effluent from sugar mills falling into
the river; LBOD’s saline water; Karachi’s’ industrial toxics
drained into the sea; flow of effluent of Karachi city and
animal blood from slaughter houses into the sea. As a
result, not only fish species in river, canals and other
water bodies have been affected but also those in the
coastal areas of Karachi, Thatta and Badin.
In the past, Sindh used to be called the land of lakes and
small and big water bodies. The number of small and big
has now come down from 1200 to 700-800 due to the following
factors: urbanisation and construction of roads on these
waters, flow of saline water and other toxic materials into
these waters. Some waters have either evaporated or their
quality has deteriorated turning them into brackish – unfit
for survival of fish.
The quality of even a big lake of Asia, the Manchar Lake,
has deteriorated partly due to flow of saline water from MNV
Drain and Balochistan and partly to local fishermen’s
pouring cement in the lake to facilitate fishing. The
fisheries department officials, say a study was being made
to ascertain the actual number of waters in Sindh which
still exist despite all these hazards.
According to experts, a havoc has been caused by sugar
mills, mostly those located in the coastal belt of Thatta
and Badin districts. Toxic effluent coming out from these
mills is drained into the sea. These toxics also affect
different waters on its way to the sea.
As for sugar mills located in
areas away from sea coast, experts complained that their
toxic materials fall into river, canals or go directly to
crop fields which is also harmful for human health. An
official of the fisheries department said that though there
were laws to punish such sugar mills, the owners of these
millers are too powerful to be made accountable.
Fish experts also complain that rapidly declining mangroves
in the coastal areas is another cause of fall in fish
They pointed out that some sea fish eat their own eggs. But,
in case where these mangroves exist, these eggs get shelter
in them and develop into fish.
The fisheries department official said that the department,
in coordination with the Sindh University, plans to
establish a freshwater prawn hatchery in Jamshoro. They
said, a MoU has been signed with the Sindh University, which
will provide land for this hatchery. Here, they said,
students of the Sindh University would also carry out
research work on various aspects of freshwater prawns.
Besides, the department has set up a shrimp farm in Gharo,
Thatta district, and now two private firms are also
establishing such farms in the coastal area, sources said.
In addition, a shrimp hatchery had been installed near
Hawkesbay, Karachi, where 2,000 kg shrimp seed has been
produced, they added.
Courtesy: The DAWN