Cleaner seas! Is coronavirus lockdown a blessing in disguise for Mumbai's marine ecosystem?

Updated: 15 April, 2020 11:22 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Environmentalists believe fishermen will get better and healthier catch post this for which demand will also be high

The fishing community has appealed to the government for some financial aid. File pic
The fishing community has appealed to the government for some financial aid. File pic

At a time when the fishermen are struggling to make both ends meet, environmental and oceanography scientists are of the opinion that the lockdown will be a blessing in disguise for the marine ecosystem. They believe that the fishermen will get a better and healthier catch post this period for which the demand will also be high.

According to environmentalists, the shutting down of industries has reduced the amount of effluent in the sea, which in turn has reduced the pollution level. And with fishing coming to a halt, the larvae will now grow well and the fish population will increase. Healthy breeding would also start from June-July.

'Lockdown is the only way'
Speaking to mid-day, Dr Jiyalal Jaiswar, ex-chief scientist CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, said, "A complete lockdown is the only way to break the transmission cycle. It definitely has dealt a massive blow to the fisheries sector and the demand for fish has collapsed resulting in hardships for the fishermen and those who work for them."

Dr Jiyalal Jaiswar,  former chief scientist CSIR-National  Institute of Oceanography
Dr Jiyalal Jaiswar, former chief scientist CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography

"However, there will be a positive impact on the industry as well. The halt in fishing activities gives scientists a research opportunity – one that could demonstrate a better, more sustainable way to manage the ocean in the post COVID-19 period," he added.

Jaiswar further said, "This period will also help fish biomass to increase. This could also significantly recover the stock in the sea. This involuntary closer of fishing will certainly have a positive impact on the fish stock and will also create a good fishing ground to recover from years of over-fishing."

"The lockdown is also expected to have a positive impact on the marine environment. With industrial activities coming to a halt, the amount of effluents being released into the water has gone down, thereby, improving the health of the marine ecosystem. The improved quality of water in estuaries and close to the shore will be beneficial for the fishing industry as well," he added.

Financial aid
Meanwhile, Godfrey Pimenta, trustee of Watchdog Foundation and vice-president of Bombay East Indian Association, said, "We have mailed our concern to State Chief Secretary, Ajoy Mehta, who has acknowledged it and forwarded the request to his subordinate. We have requested the government to grant a compensation for the fishing community, on the lines of that for the farmers. Even though the central government has lifted the ban on fishing, due to logistic issues the
fishermen cannot venture into the sea."

'How to earn our livelihood?'
He added, "We support Dr Jaiswar's observation but with no income the next few months are crucial for the fishermen and their families. And the fact that fishing activities will come to a halt during monsoon worries everyone."

Samir Nakhwa, a fisherman from Worli koliwada, said, "Even last year due to three cyclonic pressures in the sea we could not venture out for fishing continuously from August onwards. We could do it for a few days towards the end of October, but by then the season had already come to an end." "Even this time, with the lockdown extended till May 3, we'll barely have any time left to go fishing. What do we do to earn our livelihood?" asked Samir. Even after repeated attempts to contact Chief Secretary, Ajoy Mehta, he was unavailable for comment.

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First Published: 15 April, 2020 07:25 IST

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