Friday, May 23, 2008

Setu project threat to biodiversity, scrap the project -- CMFRI

Setu project threat to biodiversity, scrap the project -- CMFRI

Sethusamudram project threat to biodiversity

Mangalore, May 23: The proposed Sethusamudram project, if implemented, will adversely affect marine biodiversity in the “protected” Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, according to Director of Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), N G K Pillai.

Pillai was inaugurating a seminar on “biodiversity regime and emerging challenges and opportunities” organised by Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI here on Thursday. He said the Gulf had 3,600 species, including 300 species that were endemic to the region.

He gave the example of how projects such as Kochi shipyard had affected the marine biodiversity in Kochi estuary. He had studied virgin estuary in 1971-73 and there was little or no development activity. But another study he guided recently had revealed a biodiversity loss of up to 60 per cent.

He said a study by the World Wide Fund had revealed that a quarter of wildlife had been lost since 1970 and the maximum loss was reported in freshwater aquatic regions (29 per cent). The phenomenon of vanishing wildlife had reached alarming proportions, he said. Unless strict regulations were enforced, biodiversity loss would reach a staggering 60 to 70 per cent in the next three decades, he said. Decrying lack of political will to intervene effectively, he regretted that enforcement of many regulations left much to be desired. The only regulation adhered to was fishing holidays of 47 to 60 days. Although development activities could not be done away with, proper advice to policy makers had to be given and they might not be able to implement them for various reasons. Describing the use of trawl fishnets as “dangerous fishing practice,” he said net regulations had to be strictly enforced.

The nets brought a lot of non-edible biota to the shore and this was resulting in a “significant” biodiversity loss.

Recalling that India was home to three of the 37 global biodiversity hotspots, Pillai said some 600 species here had deteriorated.

Pillai released a CD on biodiversity.

H Shivananda Murthy, Director of Extension of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal Sciences and Fisheries University, called for strict implementation of regulations regarding fishing nets. B R Vankatesh, Director, Geological Survey of India, spoke. K Vijayakumaran, Senior Scientist with the Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI, said the seminar was organised to coincide with the World Biodiversity Day on Thursday.

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