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Our threatened freshwater environments

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Carcharodon View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 Jun 2009 at 09:58

Some of the most threatend environments in todays world are the freshwater environments. Some reasons for this is overfishing, pollution, the building of dams, the destruction of wetlands and smaller streams by draining and straightening, deforestation, acidification, buildings of channels, overuse of water and many other causes.

 
At the same time the most threatend of todays fish species and fisheries are those in freshwater.  In many countries freshwater fish is important for subsistence and local economy, so the destruction of these fisheries has a lot of negative consequences for a lot of people.

 

One example is the actual case of the proposed dams in the Xingu river in Matto Grosso, Amazon, in Brasil where indigenous peoples are threatened by destruction because of their subsistence (fishing and similar), means of transportation and their land will be destroyed.

 

See: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-xingu-peoples-from-destruction

  

An example of already severely damaged fisheries is the Yellow River in China where 1/3 of the rivers 150 fish species have gone exctinct because of overfishing, dumping, pollution, and hydropower projects along the river. These factors and others have severely degraded the underwater ecological environment in this river who saw the birth of ancient Chinese civilisation.

 

The freshwater fisheries are also threatend by the introduction of new species. One such example is the Nile Perch which has been implanted into waters where it is not native. In such waters it has become a nuisence since this big predator are decimating the indigenous and often endemic fish species living there. A known example of this is the Victoria Lake. There the altered conditions for fishing has led to an economic collapse for the local population, depending on native fishes as ciclids, at the same time as big companies more or less has a monopoly on fishing and processing the Nile Perch.

 
In addition to this also other organisms are threatend as for example the fresh water dolphins both in China (where the Yangtze river dolphin, the Baiji, maybe tragically enough are beyond hope of saving), in India (also Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal) and in South America (the Amazon and its tributaries and the Orinocco).

The examples of destroyed fresh water environments are countless all over the globe. A lot of fishes together with other animals (as amphibians, reptiles, birds, crustaceans, mammals, insects and many more) and plants are disappearing when their watery habitats are destroyed.

 

Hopefully people all over will come to awareness over this fact and start acting to save these very important environments and their organisms.



Edited by Carcharodon - 18 Jun 2009 at 10:01
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Knights View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2009 at 07:09
Carcharodon - thanks for posting this topic. I have posted in the Mekong Dolphins topic relating to this one also.
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Carcharodon View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 15:33

Also here in Sweden there are several examples of threatened and destroyed freshwater habitats. We can as an example take the province of Scania where aroune 90 percent of the surface freshwater (mostly streams, smaller lakes and wetlands) have been destroye since the 19th century. Most of the destruction took place during the years of agricultural expansion in the first half of the 20th century. Fortunately enough the government and several environmental organisations have started projects to restore wetlands, ponds, streams and similar environments. There have also been started breeding programs for threatend animals as fishes and amphibians. Thus there are breeding programms for the Catfish (Silurus glanis) and for the Fire-bellied Toad (Bombina bombina).

 

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Also internationally there are a lot of organisations that work to save rivers and other freshwater environments from pollution, building of dams and other destruction.

 

Here are a couple:

 
 

http://www.amazonwatch.org/ (fights to save the river and rainforest environment and to help the peoples that are depending of those environments for survival and subsistence)

 
 


Edited by Carcharodon - 19 Jul 2009 at 10:24
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 18:48
I will have to wait till Monday to read these posts but it is an important issue in our time. This is especially true in many third world nations and fresh water could be as valuable as oil someday soon. Wars will be fought over it and have been for centuries but it will get worse. Arizona is in a 15 year drought and much of a ground water is being used up in agriculture- we need a good rainy season or two. The Pacific NW has no shortage of water and they have been cleaning up a lot of the ground water and adding strict regulations but a lot of the water on the east side of Washington has its origins in Canada; it will be interesting to see what happens.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 20:35

In my area of the world, especially in rural areas, I've seen a lot of eurotrification due to the use of pesticides. I suppose that with freshwater habitats, it's almost impossible to keep them in their natural state if they are anywhere near human habitation - especially farms where, obviously, the level of human intervention is extremely high. Unfortunately, the larger areas, such ornithological parks near me (I can't for the life of me remember their names, however...), the Cotswold peat cuttings and in my city, the watermedows marsh near the river Itchen, attract, because of their natural beauty, boaters and tourists, which again obviously damages the land, especially by erosion.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 21:14
Itchen, is it the Itchen the classical river of the art of fly fishing, well known from books and narratives of fishing gentlemen?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 21:19

I'm pretty sure of that - it has quite a reputation as a relatively affluent and upper-class place. The watermedows boarder Winchester Cathedral, St. Catherines' hill fort, Winchester Cathedral grounds, St. Cross hospital and some of the most expensive roads in Winchester. They also prompted Keats to write some of his poems concerning autumn.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 21:39
Surely a place of pilgrimage for the lovers of culture, history, nature and the wonderful Brown Trout.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aster Thrax Eupator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2009 at 22:11

Oh yes indeed. Although fishing in some areas is prohibited because it's the property of Winchester college. They've had to install some incredibly ugly concrete barriers around the sides of some of the streams, however, to avoid the gradual erosion that is taking place. Sad, really, but nothing can really be done.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2009 at 09:31
Yes, sometimes certain places can become too popular contributing to the wear of them.
For those who will not fish it must still be exiting to maybe be able to catch a glimpse of the famous trout and even manage to take some photo of these fishes as the one in this link. It seems that the water in the Itchen is very clear and translucent:
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2009 at 10:06
Originally posted by Aster Thrax Eupator Aster Thrax Eupator wrote:

In my area of the world, especially in rural areas, I've seen a lot of eurotrification due to the use of pesticides. I suppose that with freshwater habitats, it's almost impossible to keep them in their natural state if they are anywhere near human habitation - especially farms where, obviously, the level of human intervention is extremely high. Unfortunately, the larger areas, such ornithological parks near me (I can't for the life of me remember their names, however...), the Cotswold peat cuttings and in my city, the watermedows marsh near the river Itchen, attract, because of their natural beauty, boaters and tourists, which again obviously damages the land, especially by erosion.



It is true that, especially in a fairly densely populated country like the UK, catchments are always susceptible to eutrophication. The high amount of agriculture and mosaic in the UK results in an increased degree of chemical runoff, and this is what contributes to the eutrophication of freshwater environments. Northern Hemisphere (particularly European) soil and catchments are a lot more resilient to Southern Hemisphere (eg. Australian) soil and catchments, to nitrate and phosphate overloads from fertiliser. This, and I suspect the added impact of higher temperatures, has created vast 'dead zones' off the coast of agricultural hubs like Southern USA and Mexico. Large tracts of coastal ocean have been sapped of oxygen from algal blooms, hence 'dead zone', because nothing can survive there.

That said, it isn't all doom and gloom. You'd be familiar with the Norfolk Broads, yes? They are a completely artificial freshwater wetland created over the last 50 years or something, after mass peat mining in the area. It goes to show that freshwater environments can be very resilient and hardy, even materialising out of ex-mine sites.

Just my two cents Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 2009 at 21:36
Here we also try to recreate old wetlands, lakes and similar. For example we have the Lake Hornborga, western Sweden, where every year about 10 000 - 15 000 cranes stops to eat and rest before dispersing to their nesting grounds, where there were a huge job to restore the lake to some of its former size, since it had been severly drained in the late 19th and early 20 th century. The restoration has made thousands of different birds come back (and also boosted the tourist industry in the neighbourhood because so many travel there to watch the cranes and the other birds).
 
Another project that maybe will become a reality is the lake Veselangen in the river Viskan, in Halland on the Swedish west coast. It was also drained due to agricultural need. That meant that a lot of nutrients were flushed right into the sea. So now they are planning to restore also lake Veselangen so it can be a trap for nitrogen and other nutrients and at the same time attract many birds and other wildlife.
 
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