A two days international webinar on “Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the ecosystem health of rivers and its dolphin population: Present status and future strategy for conservation in India-Bangladesh-Myanmar-Nepal” was held on 24th-25thAugust 2020. It was inaugurated by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Special Secretary and Director General, National Mission of Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Jalashakti, Government of India.
This webinar aims at the conservation of river dolphins in the South East Asian region through regional strategy and partnership. Experts on dolphins from various countries viz. India, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Indonesia are participating and share their experience in this Webinar. More than 1000 participants from various Research Organizations, Colleges, Universities of India and other countries had participated in this webinar.
River dolphins are indicators of riverine ecosystem health and the populations are declining day by day due to various anthropogenic activities. Dolphin population is also an indicator for fisheries development in the riverine ecosystem.
The indiscriminant and illegal fishing has resulted in catching juvenile fishes and accidental/illegal catching of dolphins from inland waters. The lessening of this IUCN listed threatened species plays a crucial role in the fisheries development of the rivers.
Dr. B. K. Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI in his welcome address gave a brief about the aim and objectives of this webinar. He emphasized that the representatives from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia are participating in this noble cause for striving for conservation of dolphins. The webinar would enhance the dolphin conservation in the South East Asian Regional Countries and Strengthens the Hon’ble Prime Minister flagship project River dolphin.
Dr. J. K. Jena, DDG (Fisheries Science), ICAR in his address discussed about the river Dolphin status in India. He said that two of ICAR fisheries institutes are working on dolphin conservation, ICAR-CIFRI, Barrackpore on the river dolphin and ICAR-CMFRI, Kochi on the mammals of the Indian Ocean including marine dolphins. He hoped that this webinar deliberation will come out with recommendation for conservation of River dolphins.
Dr. B. C. Chaudhury, Retd. Principal Scientist, Wildlife institute of India in his address discussed about the efforts of wild life institute of India in conservation of dolphins in India and genesis of it since nineties. He also discussed about Ganga action plan and Indus RiverDolphins.
Prof. A. P. Sharma, Ex Director ICAR-CIFRI, Barrackpore in his address, stressed on the role of river habitat on the dolphin population in the rivers. He suggested more research needed to be taken up for conservation of dolphin habitat restoration and also on the impact of pollutants on dolphin population.
Dr. Dilip Kumar, Former Vice Chancellor, ICAR-CIFE, Mumbai in his address discussed about the dolphin population in Indo-Nepal Rivers. He also spoke about the social aspects of fishers life and dolphin in rural India.