Pollution and water shortage in River Indus have caused extinction of several fish species
Palla and other local fish species are also facing threat of extinction, which had been source of livelihood for the local fishermen for centuries.
Due to construction of barrages, the Palla fish remains confined to sea water; release of water downstream Kotri Barrage should be ensured as per Water Accord to save River Indus and its fish species – experts
By Rehan Khan Khushik
Several species of fish were extinct in the river Indus River owing to pollution, human development, global warming, climate change, Industrial effluents and urban effluents, over-fishing, dryness in water bodies, experts of fresh water biology, fisheries and irrigation said.
The experts were speaking at one-day workshop on ‘Fish migration and modification of fish’ held at a local hotel in Hyderabad on Thursday by Sindh Barrages Improvement Project.
A number of experts of fish migration, fresh water biology and irrigation attended the workshop and presented suggestions how to protect the Hilsa-Palla and other fishes in River Indus.
They said that Palla and other local fishes are facing threat of extinction, which had been source of livelihood for the local fishermen for centuries.
In the first session of workshop, the experts presented their recommendations after discussion and in the second session, the ten-member panel of experts met and finalized suggestions for preserving the Palla fish and the source of livelihood of local fishermen in River Indus.
“Due to pollution, human development, climate change, industrial and urban effluents, over-fishing, dryness in water bodies, the several species of fishes are extinct in the river Indus,” said Director General Fisheries Department Sindh Meer Allah Dad Talpur while addressing the first session of the workshop.
“There are more than 100000 kinds of sea creatures and 25000 are the fishes in the sea. Hilsa locally called Palla is the sea creature,” he said.
“Due to construction of barrages, the Palla fish remained confined to sea water,” said DG Fisheries and added that during the monsoon season, Palla fish comes to River Indus from April to October months each year for breeding purposes and returns to the sea along its breed. “Palla or Hilsa is the silver pride of Sindh and a guest of River Indus,” he remarked.
He informed that 517 million seed of fish were utilized in 17 fish hatcheries in Sindh.
Deputy Director Environment SBIP Dr. Ali Asghar Mahesar said that in olden times Palla moved 600 km in River Indus from Sea to Multan but after construction of Hydraulic structures and barrages, it was constrained till downstream Kotri Barrage.
Project Director Sindh Barrages Improvement Project Ghulam Mohi u Ddin Mughal said that three studies were recommended by experts related to fish migration and environment flow downstream Kotri- Barrage.
He said that these studies are under discussion with World Bank and added that recommendations and suggestions of experts related to a variety of fishes and Palla fish in River Indus will be sent to irrigation authority and other concerned stakeholders.
Additional secretary (Technical) irrigation department Sindh, Mohammad Ayoob Soomro said that the development structures have caused reducing the availability of Palla in the River Indus.
He said that Palla fish comes into River Indus during April to October in the hot weather and returns in the cold season to the sea when water level recedes in the river Indus. He said that the efforts were being made to protect the Palla variety in River Indus.
He said that Palla fish was the main source of income of fishing community at River Indus but due to the reduction of Palla, the local fishermen have migrated to other towns.
Prof Dr. Naeem Tariq Narejo, fish migration expert, said this species ascend River Indus from Arabian Sea. He said that prior to construction of barrages on the River Indus, it used to reach up to Multan covering a distance of 600 miles. He said that Pallo or Hilsa is also found in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, Gulf of Tonking in Vietnam.
Renowned Hydrologist Prof. Dr. Abdul Latif Qureshi of Mehran University Jamshoro, presented his work for the management of the environmental flow of Kotri Barrage from the conducted Hydrological analysis studies. He said that if there is no availability of water downstream Kotri Barrage, how Palla can travel from Sea to River Indus?
He informed that there are losses of water in River Indus and it causes shortages.
He discussed the Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) signed by the four provinces of Pakistan in 1991 which included an indicative allocation of 10 to 15 Million Acre feet (MAF) water for environmental flow downstream Kotri Barrage.
He added that three studies were conducted in the early 2000s funded by the Federal Flood Commission and these studies also recommend the environmental flow downstream Kotri Barrage which we are not receiving.
He said that it needs to control water losses in River Indus from Chashma, Taunsa and Panjnand towards Guddu barrage to provide supply of water downstream Kotri Barrage.
Ph.D. researcher Imran Aziz Tunio expressed opinion that a minimum flow of 5000 cusecs must be released continuously as per the recommendation of the independent panel of experts and environmental flow must be considered necessary to reduce the sea intrusion in the Indus Delta and sustaining of aquatic life and endangered Hilsa (Palla).
Prof Anila Naaz Soomro of Fresh Water Biology and Fisheries Department University of Sindh spoke on the importance of fish.
Abdul Razak Memon, Director Procurement SBIP said that owing to environment pollution and other reasons Hilsa or Palla fish has reduced and very low quantity of fish is being caught currently.
Other experts Tariq Asad Ursani, Faria Uqaily, Miss Carry, Consultant of Moot Macdonald and Shabana Parveen also spoke. Urooj Fatima, Maida, Ruba Shaikh, Ayesha, Iqra and Ezzat Jahan participated in discussion. The group discussion was also held in which protection of Hilsa and other fisheries were discussed. Later, certificates were distributed among the participants.