Dhaka, Jan 2 (IANS) Bangladesh is losing out on one of its main objects of pride: fish. Some 20 species of indigenous fish have become extinct over the last 10 years. A hundred more are endangered, a study has found.
If the trend continues, nearly 70 percent of the local fish varieties may suffer the same fate in the next few years.
Around 100 out of 143 local fish species are in imminent danger of extinction, according to the study conducted by Mostafa Ali Reza Hossain, professor of fisheries biology and genetics at the Bangladesh Agriculture University.
He attributes the destruction to the use of nylon fishing nets, insecticides, chemical fertilisers and depletion of habitats, The Daily Star said Sunday.
‘Some species will cease to exist even in the next two years unless measures for their conservation are taken immediately,’ warns Reza Hossain.
The species that have already become extinct include gutum, korika, bhol, debari, one kind of puti, ghora mukhya, nandil, kursa, bhorkhol, ghorpoiya, one kind of tengra and kajuli, torrent catfish, kani tengra, chhoto koi and tila shol.
The fish that face extinction within a couple of years include balichata, betangi, rani, chela, darkina, pathorchata, joiya, ghora machh, baitka and mohashol.
Syed Arif Azad, aquaculture officer of the fisheries department, said excessive use of chemical fertilisers destroys breeding and rearing grounds of the fish.
Fish habitats have been disappearing also due to rapid shrinking of water bodies caused by construction of buildings, he said.
In the fiscal year 2008-2009 alone, over three million tonnes of chemical fertilisers and 45,000 tonnes of insecticides were used in farmlands across the country, according to Department of Agriculture Extension data.
Rains wash away nearly 25 percent of these fertilisers and insecticides to nearby ditches, canals and wetlands. This instantly destroys the natural habitats of fish species.
To make matters worse, excessive fishing and encroachment of water bodies continue unabated.
‘The basic problem is that there are too few fishes being chased by too many people,’ said William Collis, regional director of World Food Centre, an affiliate to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
‘Fish are long-term resources,’ Collis said. ‘They need permanent protection, and to ensure that, a country needs long-term plans to protect its wetlands.’
The government has established a number of sanctuaries across the country to restore fish habitats and maintain fish diversity, said Arif Azad.
Mostafa Ali said sanctuaries are the most effective and efficient tool for protecting fish. But the problem lies in having proper guidelines on how to build and manage the sanctuaries.
‘Sperm banking for fish has to be set up to protect the fast depleting species,’ he suggested, stressing on protecting crops from pest attacks so as to combat environmental degradation.