Mounds of dead fish found along northern Mangalore coast have raised concerns among fishermen about the increased marine and coastal pollution as a result of growing industrial activities.
“It is not usual to find fish floating near the beach. This is alarming as these are fish varieties that are bottom dwellers and are found in 25-30 metres down from the surface level. This must have something to do with marine pollution or some extraordinary changes in the sea” said Keshav Karkera, a fisherman.
According to experts, dead fish do surface on water at times. But this time, most of the dead fish spotted along the coast are bottom dwellers. “They were alive and almost immobile when we found them. They were moving slowly so that we could catch them by hand. Reports of dead fish being spotted have come from different parts of Mangalore taluk including Panambur and Sasihithlu. We have sent messages to fishermen and their associations in other parts of the coast including Karwar and Udupi,” Vasudeva Boloor of Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee said.
Experts from the College of Fisheries affiliated to Karnataka Veterinary Animal, Fishery Sciences University, Bidar, rushed to the coast to gather samples, while the officials of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) have started an investigation.
Alarmed by the development, experts from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, have also started ascertaining the reason for the death of fish. According to NIO authorities, there have been no reports of dead fish being spotted from the northern parts of Karnataka coast .
Experts from the College of Fisheries cite three reasons for unexplained mass death of fish. Low oxygen on surface water due to the monsoon, harmful algal bloom in the sea that affects Pelagic fish varieties which are also referred as ‘Red Tide’ and the practice of foreign bull trawlers to dump excess catch back into the sea when they run out of space to store them.
Yathish Baikampady, a fisherman, begs to differ. “Since this phenomenon has occurred in the highly industrialised parts of the northern Mangalore coast, we fear that coastal pollution has caused changes in the sea that have led to the death of fish in a large volume. We also want a complete analysis of the industrial discharge into the sea by the KSPCB,” he said.