Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Consumers to fight against fish pollution


December 2007
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 17: With incidents of fish pollution on the increase in the country, a group of fish consumers has formed themselves into a formidable force to fight against polluting industries.
Polluted fish is a silent killer, affecting the brain, kidneys and blood of those who consume it quite frequently. According to an estimate about 50 per cent of fish produced is contaminated with heavy metals. Even the catch from the ocean is polluted with heavy metals that are capable of killing an unborn child in mother's womb.
The Coastal Andhra Fish Favourites' Association will launch legal battles against polluting pharmaceutical and industrial units that let out untreated pollutants into water bodies. So far, there's no consumer body in the country to take interest in the health of people who eat fish, though many State governments have been recommending use of fish in regular diet to keep oneself in good health. The Association will also simultaneously launch a social awareness campaign.
"The importance of fish in one's daily diet has gained momentum of late. More and more number of doctors and dieticians are encouraging patients as well as the healthy to consume fish in sufficiently large quantities for good health and extra brain power. But polluted fish is doing more harm than good. We are fish lovers and want healthy fish," says S Bhujanga Rao and Shaik Ali Shah of the Association.
About 1000 fish lovers got the idea of forming themselves into a consumer rights force after they noticed that a variety of fish that otherwise commanded a price of Rs 100 per kg was being sold for just Rs 40 a kg because of pollutants let out by an industry in Bhimli town in Visakhapatnam district.
Fish consumer movement gains significance in Andhra Pradesh as the State is the largest producer of fish in the country contributing to more than 10 per cent of total fish production, including marine. The fish industry contributes 2.3 per cent to the GSDP and the net produce is worth about Rs 7,000 crore. Research studies have revealed that most of the fish is polluted with heavy metals like mercury and lead which continues to accumulate in the human body with a synergetic effect.
Results showed that fish contained enough mercury to kill an unborn child. Women who consume fish more than two times a week showed seven times more mercury in their blood levels. In the case of children the accumulation is as high as 40 times.

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