The Telegraph
Friday, December 15, 2017

Bihar plans scheme to save dolphins

First published on 07-Dec-2017
A fisherman shows a Gangetic dolphin after it got trapped in his net. Telegraph picture

Patna: Fishermen will be compensated and rewarded if they save Gangetic dolphins from death when the animals get trapped in fishing nets.

The compensation will be for the net the fishermen would need to cut to release the trapped animal and the reward would be for releasing it back in the river.

"We intend to launch this scheme soon," deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who holds the charge of the environment and forest department, said on Wednesday.

Modi had hinted about the launch of such a scheme while speaking at the Dolphin Day programme held in Patna on October 5, after fishermen's representative Ramashish Choudhary Nishad had highlighted the efforts of a fisherman from Fatuha who had saved three dolphins.

A senior forest department official said the fishermen would be given up to Rs 20,000 as compensation for the damaged net if they release the trapped dolphins. "An additional sum of Rs 5,000 would be given to such fishermen as reward for their effort," added the official. "Every now and then we come across incidents in which dolphins die after getting trapped in fishing nets."

Bihar is home to around half of the estimated 3,000 Gangetic dolphins, the national aquatic animal which is an endangered species, in the country. Dolphins need to come to the surface of the water to breathe. While calves need surface every 10 seconds to one minute, adult dolphins surface every three minutes to breathe. If they are trapped in fishing nets, they cannot come up for air, and die.

R.K. Sinha, a nationally acclaimed expert on Gangetic dolphins, said the government step deserved appreciation, but added: "There should not be any misuse of this scheme and only the genuine claimants should be rewarded."

He also expressed concern over the common practice of fishing in night hours and said that often fishermen go to sleep after lowering the net and in such a circumstance it would be difficult to save dolphins that get trapped in nets.

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