A carnivorous fish widely found in the past in coastal areas of India’s southern state Kerala is on the verge of extinction.
The numbers of Indian Spiny Turbot, (biologically known as ‘Psettodes erumei’),one of the largest flatfish species in Indian waters is declining sharply due to large scale fishing and other human activities in the oceans, a recent study said.
A study done by Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries of University of Kerala says that the commercial catch of the fish has not been reported in the last 10 years.
Not only the Indian Spiny Turbot, population of carnivorous fish varieties including sharks is shrinking fast in the region, the study, completed recently, said.
“Increased fishing activity is considered to be the main reason for the extinction of the fish. The larger size of turbot makes them more vulnerable to fishing than other species. The climatic impact may also have contributed to the
shrinking but the issue needs more investigation,” Biju Kumar and Pramod Kiran who did the study said.
Known for its nutritive value, high meat content and lesser bones, the Indian Spiny Turbot was one of the most sought-after fish.
Known in local parlance as “Aayiram Palli”
(thousand-toothed fish) for its sharp teeth, the species had always been on high demand in Europe and America.
The predator species, which has a maximum length of 60 cm, is largely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific from Red Sea and East Africa to Japan and Australia.
However, the researchers expressed concern that extinction of the fish might cause an adverse impact on the food chain.
“As the turbot is a carnivore and occupy a higher position in the food chain, its extinction may create serious repercussions on the delicate food web of the Indian coastal waters,” Biju Kumar said.
A detailed questioner-based survey prepared with the help of fishermen across the state also supported the study.
The study recommended some precautionary methods to conserve the species before it disappeared totally.