Wildlife and Fisheries Deptt at loggerheads over dwindling fish population in Wular
Mir Tariq (Rising Kashmir)
Banadipora: The depletion in fish population in Asia’s famous Wular Lake has sparked a row between Fisheries and Wildlife Department. While the former has asserted that migratory birds feeding on lake’s fish have become a major cause of depleting fish population, Wildlife officials say that the number of fish-eating migratory birds has itself witnessed a decline during past few years.
After Rising Kashmir reported depleting fish habitat in Wular, officers in district fisheries office Bandipora have come up with a statement that the depletion is more pronounced in winter months - October to March during which the lake plays host to fish eating migratory birds.
“There is depletion in fish population due to two main reasons, one is growing pollution and another is arrival of migratory birds in Wular Lake” said District Fisheries Officer (DFO) Muhammad Sadeeq.
“Though the department is trying to enhance fish population by introducing resistant fish eggs in the Lake but we have not been able to cope up with the situation,” added Sadeeq.
“Controlling growing pollution and regulating the arrival of migratory birds can be effective in enhancing fish population,” the officer said.
However officers in the department of Wild Life say that less number of migratory birds visit wetlands of Kashmir now due to swift changes in climate.
In a telephonic interview, Wild Life Warden (WLW) North Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad denied fewer migratory birds as the cause of depleting fish population in Wular Lake.
According to WLW the migratory birds are fish eaters, but their number has gone down steeply in Wular wetland due to growing climatic changes. “Few thousand migratory birds cannot be blamed for the main cause of depleting fish population in Wular,” WLW said.
A field employee of Wild Life department deputed at Wular wet land said “I am working here for the past eight years and have noticed less number of migratory birds visiting this place.” “Though fish is the main food of these birds, but few thousand birds cannot reduce fish population to such an extent,” the employee adds.
Officials in Fisheries Department negate the point and say that even 20,000 birds are enough to have substantial affect on Lake’s fish population. “As per rough estimates, each bird eats nearly 25 fish every day and even if 5,000 of them stay here for six months, it adds up to nearly 45 lakh fish. This decline is consequential,” said Muhammad Sadeeq DFO Bandipora. “The condition is worsening due to growing pollution in the lake” DFO added.
“There is an immense influence of migratory birds on fish population in Wular Lake and it can be balanced only when Wildlife department participates in adding more fish seeds in the lake for consumption of migratory birds,” said a scholar Mansoor Ahmed Rather working on the project.