As the saying goes- “Take what you need and leave the rest”.
Today’s updates for the project are from the mangrove forests of West Bengal – called ‘the Sundarbans’. Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) along with a local organisation (Lokmata Rani Rashmoni Mission; LRRM) convinced and supported the fishing community from 3 islands of the Sundarbans– ‘Gosaba’, ‘Satjelia’ and ‘Bali’ – to release their by-catch back into the estuarine mangrove waters.
The released by-catch comprised nearly 92,000 prawn-associated fauna in the reporting period! Several species of fish, squids, snails, snakes and crabs that would have otherwise perished as by-catch were rescued and put back into the waters. All it needed was a simple solution. We provided aluminum containers to the collectors and convinced them to segregate the seeds and adults of their species of interest from the other species, at the source.
Fishing is the mainstay occupation of the locals residing around the Sundarbans. Commercial collection of fish seeds and adults of Tiger Prawns (Panaeus monodon) or ‘Bogda’ (local name) is most prevalent. However, excessive use of drag nets and fine-meshed bag nets results in capture of several other species as by-catch which are not needed by the fishers and eventually dumped off. The fishing activity is mostly dominated by women who spend nearly five hours in water every day for a sufficient catch.
We initiated a cost-effective and straightforward approach which prevented the fisherwomen from throwing away the by-catch. 60 prawn collectors from the three islands were provided with aluminium buckets to help pick out the Tiger prawn seeds and collect the other associated macro fauna separately. Once segregated at the point of collection, the Tiger prawn seed collectors released back the other species.
The team is monitoring the seed collectors to ensure the release of by-catch. We are also collecting data on the number of associated fauna per Tiger prawn seed obtained. On an average, at least eighty other macro fauna are caught for every Tiger prawn collected! This amounts to around 3, 72, 232 by-catch of macro fauna every year, that will now be rescued and released alive.
The project is still ongoing and we hope this simple initiative will find more participation to help save the marine fauna of the Sundarbans.
All this would not have been possible without your generous support. We will keep sending you more updates on similar initiatives. Till then, take care and stay safe.