The Ernakulam Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) has intervened to raise awareness about the invasion of water bodies by water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), which is increasingly threatening backwater cage fish farms.
Contrary to the usual trend of water hyacinth decomposition in October, the aquatic plant is still visible in the backwaters, following the prolonged monsoon and the release of water from the dams. Normally, water hyacinths dominate water bodies during the July-August period in tandem with monsoon runoff and begin to break down as salinity levels in standing waters increase.
The plant appears to be a threat primarily to cage aquaculture as it significantly reduces water flow in fish cages set up in backwaters. Reduced water flow leads to reduced oxygen levels, leading to fish kills. It’s a troubling situation for fish farmers, who rely heavily on cage farming as a livelihood, said KVK chief Shinoj Subramanian. Water hyacinth also acts as a breeding ground for parasites and other dangerous organisms that spread disease among fish, he said. In order to tackle the problem, the KVK, which falls under the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), has launched an awareness campaign on the adverse effects of water hyacinth on fish production and on how to remove them from bodies of water.
In line with the campaign and within the framework of Swatchtha Pakhwada, a massive clean-up campaign was carried out at Ezhikkara in Paravur taluk of Ernakulam district, engaging young fish farmers to remove aquatic weeds from an area of two acres.