Fishermen face financial distress

Bangalore Capstone Environment

Recently, fish kills have increased in several Bangalore lakes, and many fishermen are suffering because of the lack of fish in the lakes. 

According to the fisheries department, there are 13,013 fishermen population in urban Bangalore, and 2846 are active fishermen. In rural Bangalore, the total fishermen population is 33585, of which 7,346 are active fishermen. According to Indian Water Portal, only four lakes in Bangalore are in good condition. More than 25 lakes out of 164 are severely polluted due to solid waste and sewage water dumping. Residents living around the lakes throw garbage and medical debris into the lakes leading to contamination. Contaminated lake water leads to the death of flora and fauna in that ecosystem. Data by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People shows that hundreds of fish are dying due to polluted lakes in Bangalore. In recent years Bangalore has seen a fall in the number of fish in the lakes. Around 12 fish species in Bangalore are endangered, including the Karnataka Labeo and Indian Glassy fish. 

“I have been doing this for the last 15 years. My wife helps me in selling fish. There was a time we made more money by selling fish, and now we hardly earn 500 a day. Lockdown made it worse for us. Raising three children can be tough for them to manage money. And this is the only thing I do. My daughter doesn’t go to school yet because I am waiting to earn more and send her to school,” said Nagraj HR, fishermen from Kumbalgudu.

“Sometimes we catch fish; sometimes we don’t catch. It is not easy now to change your profession when you have done fishing for years. There are fewer fishes in the water than a few years back,” said Anil Gowda, a fisherman in HSR layout.

Recently there has been a huge Fishkill in Bengaluru’s kothnur lakes because of sewage entering the lake. Activists and residents have said that despite raising this issue several times, the BBMP has not done anything.

The BBMP, however, says that they are working towards cleaning lakes. There is work going on in Bellandur and Varthur lake. 

“For the last year, we have been digging up the silt from the lake, cleaning the lake, it was going on smoothly, but the process was delayed due to rain. Now we are working on it again,” said Ashwath M, BBMP marshal working in Bellandur Lake. 

“The condition of the lake is terrible. There are so many cases of frothing and fire in these lakes. Is it even possible for any animal to survive when there is so much contamination? People throw hazardous waste in these lakes. Even if you are getting fish, is it edible,” said Jagdeesh Reddy, an environmental activist and the founder of Varthur rising.

There is a shortage of fish in lakes. The non-availability of fish in the lakes leads to job loss for fishermen dependent on it for survival. Many families rely solely on fishing to make two ends meet, but they have to search for alternate jobs because of the shortage of fish. Thousands of families across the state have to suffer due to loss of livelihood. More often than not, there is only one breadwinner in every family, so if they cannot earn, it pushes the family into poverty which further impacts the overall development, education, and health. 

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