Fishy goings-on

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Is something wrong with the fish species around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands? So would it seem, going by a recent decision of the environment and fisheries departments of the island to cultivate European bass imported from Denmark in marine cages in the coastal waters. The decision was taken reportedly at the behest of the Marine Products Export Development Authority, which has argued for commercial exploitation of the Andaman coastline.

Environmentalists and marine scientists say introducing an alien species is hazardous and the government should have first conducted trials to ascertain the impact of the new species. According to Sane News, a newsletter published by the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, the introduction of this species is even more difficult to understand in view of the fact that a close cousin of the European bass, the common bass, is available in the local waters.

Other experts object to fish culture in marine waters through pens and cages. Though the island government says the European bass will be enclosed and there is no risk of their affecting or mingling with native species, the cages are not fail-safe and are known to collapse during storms. Experts like John Munroe of the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resource Management in Manila warn against pen culture in coral reefs because high-density cultivation can lead to imbalances like heavy sedimentation, deprivation of oxygen to the native species and undesirable algal blooms. The government, obviously, thinks these are small prices to pay for the hard currency the cultured bass is expected to bring.

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