Many species in danger of extinction


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Scientists have raised concern about the indiscriminate export of the ornamental fish from the state, which could lead to the extinction of many species including, the beautiful red-lined Miss Kerala.

Going by the latest and indirect figures of export of this endemic and endangered fish, it is seen that more than a lakh Miss Kerala fish are being exported, in spite of it being included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Since its first export in 1996, and subsequent rise to fame at ‘Aquarama 1997’ (World exhibition on ornamental fish), the Red Lined Torpedo Barbs or the Miss Kerala have been indiscriminately collected for the trade. While many native ornamental fish are in great demand in international markets, the ‘Miss Kerala’, known as chorakaniyan/ chenkaniyan in Malayalam tops the export list, with each pair fetching around Rs 2,000 in international market. “The fishery for ornamentals in the streams of Kerala is an open-access one, devoid of any quotas or access restrictions. No regulation on either catch or effort is in place, nor is there any policy directed towards protection of native ornamental fisheries, often thought to be free commodity which can be collected from nature. I feel that it is high time to think about ensuring sustainability in export and wild collection,’’ said A.Bijukumar, head of the KU Departmnent of Aquatic Biology.

The ornamental fish trade is promoted by the State Government by organizing international Aqua shows and seminars on biannual basis ensuring participation of scientists, administrators, breeders, traders and entrepreneurs even from foreign countries. Loaches inhabiting the streams of Kerala and species with unique appearance such as freshwater puffer fish (‘Thavalapottan’ or ‘Attunda’) also command exorbitant prices in the international market.

Red line torpedo barb is endemic and exclusive to the Achenkovil, Bharathapuzha and Chaliyar rivers. Specifically, they are found in four locations- Cheenkannipuzha (a major tributary of Velapattanam River), the Achankovil river, the Chaliyar river and near Mundakkayam town. Studies conducted at Cochin University of Science and Technology have indicated that populations of Miss Kerala has declined at a rate of 70 pc at key collection sites.

�A recent ongoing study by the Conservation Research Group, St Albert’s College, Kochi, has observed that the species is overfished in Valapatanam River.

The Miss Kerala, scientifically called Puntius denisonii has been assessed as Endangered as populations have declined by more than 50 pc in the recent past owing to e indiscriminate exploitation for international aquarium pet trade.

Workshop on Ornamental Fish�

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In connection with the World Fisheries Day on November 21, the KU Department of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries has decided to organise a brainstorming workshop on ‘Sustainable Management of Ornamental Fish Resources of Kerala’. The venue of the workshop is the conference hall of the� Aquatic Biology department of the University of Kerala at Kariavattom.

The themes in key presentations include present status of indigenous freshwater ornamental fish resources of Kerala; present status of indigenous marine ornamental fish resources of Kerala; export of indigenous fish resources from India; managing RET species in education, research and export; Green certification for export and sustainable management of ornamental fish export: the way ahead.�

For more details, contact the organising secretary, World Fisheries Day Celebrations 2011, Department of Aquatic Biology & Fisheries. University of Kerala, Kariavattom, Thiruvananthapuram 695 581, or over telephone numbers� 0471-2308131 ; 9447216157.��������������


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