White-bellied Sea Eagle on a Fish Trap in Lake Chilika, Odisha

Vasanth Asokan
Sea Eagles often perch near fish traps in the hopes of finding easy prey.

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Almost 200,000 people live off the produce of the lake. Chilika is one of the most important wintering grounds for migratory birds in all of Asia. Many species of the winged visitors depend on fish just as heavily as humans. But given the intensity of human activity, the competition seems headed towards an unequal end.

Fish trapped in nets catch the attention of a White-bellied Sea Eagle in Lake Chilika, Odisha. Sea Eagles and other birds often perch near fish traps in the hopes of finding easy prey. Unfortunately, they risk entanglement in the nets themselves should they take the risk of diving into the traps. Lake Chilika is an extremely productive ecosystem, and fishing, though largely traditional, has become very intensive. So much so, that virtually no part of the lake is free from fishing activity. A variety of artisanal methods are used to catch fish, prawn and crab, not all of them legal or sustainable. The scale of fishing is at an all time high, as are fish landing numbers. Almost 200,000 people live off the produce of the lake. Chilika is one of the most important wintering grounds for migratory birds in all of Asia. Many species of the winged visitors depend on fish just as heavily as humans. But given the intensity of human activity, the competition seems headed towards an unequal end.

Chilika Development Authority (CDA) is in charge of managing Lake Chilika. The organization faces the challenging task of improving fisher livelihood while also promoting sustainable fishing practices and maintaining the ecological integrity of the lake.

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