Stakeholder driven vulnerability assessment of wetland fisheries in the context of climate change
Floodplain wetlands are biologically sensitive ecosystem and considered as the one of the most impacted habitatdue to climate change.India is endowed with vast floodplain wetland resources (Area: 0.5 million ha),a unique ecosystem supporting invaluable fish biodiversity and catering to the nutritional and livelihood needs of millions of fishers. It has huge potential for fish production but there exists wide gap between potential and present fish production due to multitude of factors. The resources are under stress due to siltation, pollution, encroachment, loss of riverine connectivity, macrophyte infestation, climatic variability and associated stressors. During the last few decades, country has witnessed considerable change in climate viz. rise in temperature, erratic rainfall and occurrence of extreme climatic events.However, there is lack of long-term quantified data to assess the impacts of climate change on floodplain wetlands fisheries in India.In this context, scientific team of ICAR-CIFRI conducted a questionnaire based survey with emphasis on stakeholder approach during 19-24 November 2018 under the NICRA project to assess the vulnerability of wetland fisheries to climate change. Morethan 200 fishers belonging to 12 wetlands of Malda and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal were interviewed. Majority of the fishers opined that there is considerable decline in diversity and catch of indigenous fish fauna, closure of link channel, reduction in depth and area and auto recruitment failure. They have attributed some of these changes to rise in temperature, heat wave and erratic rainfall.
Baselineinformation was generated on ecological parameters, stocking details, fish production, productivity, fish diversity including SIFs, crafts and gears, institutional arrangements etc. Staggered stocking of IMCs and Chinese carps and multiple harvesting are being practiced in most of the wetlands. The data collected will be used for estimation of vulnerability index of wetlands that are ecologically distinct and under different management regime using exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.The major issues encountered by the fishers are climatic variability, siltation, disease outbreak, lack of technical expertise in Culture Based Fisheries (CBF), inadequate biosecurity measures, poor socio-economic statusetc.The data generated during the surveywill be useful for the formulation of strategic knowledge based management practice and action plan for sustainable management of floodplain wetland fisheries.Additionally, it will be an important basis for policy makers to develop appropriate adaptation strategies to minimize the risk of wetland fisheries to climate variability.The scientific team of CIFRI comprised of Dr. U. K. Sarkar, HoD(RWFD)& PI, NICRA, Shri Mishal P., Scientist& Co-PI, Shri B. K. Naskar, TA and research scholars, NICRA.