Nameri, May 25: Principal scientist at the Uttarakhand-based directorate of cold water fisheries, Debajit Sarma, has called for declaring wild mahseer (Tor putitora) a national fish.
This was proposed at a programme on World Fish Migration Day yesterday. The programme was organised by Assam Bhoreli Angling and Conservation Association at Nameri eco-camp in Sonitpur.
World Fish Migration Day is a global initiative, with local events worldwide, to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish.
Sarma said the denudation of forest area has left several waterbodies unfilled, affecting the breeding of the fish during May to August.
The fish species is classified as endangered by the Red List of the IUCN.
Sarma said it is a popular gamefish, and can reach up to nine feet in length and 54kg in weight. “Habitat loss, habitat degradation and overfishing has led to more than 50 per cent decline in its population,” Sarma said.
In Assam, the population is fast depleting and at present is chiefly localised to certain major river systems, he said.
The species is found across the Himalayan region and elsewhere in South Asia and Southeast Asia.
He said because of several dams planned for construction in the Himalayan region, there could be more drastic effect on the population of the mahseer, blocking migration and affecting their breeding.
The directorate of cold water fisheries is under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.