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Banned invasive African catfish thrive in Coimbatore lakes, snapped up by gullible buyers


COIMBATORE: Unlike the other fish displayed by way of fishmongers on the Ukkadam marketplace in the town, eel-like African catfish which can be kept in trays regularly soar out and move slowly like snakes on the ground. Running at the back of them, a vendor hits them with a stick and put them back in the tray, much to the amusement of patrons.
African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) are found in abundance in all town lakes, including Periyakulam and Valankulam, the dealers mentioned. A kilogram is sold for Rs 80 to Rs 100.

But, the central government had banned breeding, transportation and sale of the invasive species in 2000. In 1997, a committee constituted to control the advent of exotic aquatic organisms in India had directed the state governments and Union territories to initiate steps to smash catfish, also known as exotic magur, that had been presented without permission. After three years, following a high courtroom order, the ban used to be implemented across the nation because the carnivorous fish used to be posing a risk to indigenous fish varieties.

“Catfish live on for days when wrapped with rainy sacks. As they're alive on the time of sale and style good, patrons want them. They also cost not up to rohu and jalebi,” fish vendor Nagaraj informed TOI. “We acquire them from fishermen, who catch them from Periyakulam, simply reverse to the Ukkadam marketplace.”

Compared to native fish species, catfish can live on in any water, even in sludge, an environmentalist mentioned. “Local fishermen depart catfish hatchlings into lakes as they have a high enlargement, survival and breeding price. As they grow quicker, the fishers could earn nearly double or triple the amount than breeding and selling native varieties. The hatchlings are sourced from Andhra Pradesh,” he mentioned.

The species disrupts the ecosystem in the lakes and destroys biodiversity, mentioned V Senthil Kumar, assistant professor and head of the Thanjavur Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture. “They consume all kinds of native fish. Over a time frame, they're going to change into the dominant variety proliferating in water our bodies and local fish would have reached the stage of extinction.”

Biosafety measures like putting in filters on the inlets should be taken to forestall the fish from transferring from one lake to some other, Kumar mentioned. ““Fishermen are selling them handiest because there is a good demand and the input cost is minimal. If other people refuse to purchase it, there will be little need for them to breed it. It may well be achieved handiest by way of developing consciousness.”


However, president of the Covai Fishermen’s Co-operative Society M Balamurugan refuted the allegation. “We didn't depart African catfish hatchlings in lakes. They entered the lakes from rivers years ago. In truth, we are affected by them because they consume most of the hatchlings of different fish varieties we depart in the lakes. We bore a huge loss on account of them. We need the officials concerned to take steps to smash them,” he mentioned.


A fisheries department legitimate mentioned that the dep. has not gained any grievance in regards to the fishermen leaving the banned species in town lakes. “If we receive a grievance, we will ensure that the fishermen depart the hatchlings handiest in the presence of the landlord of the lakes, this is, the city corporation.”


A meals protection legitimate in charge of preventing banned species from coming into markers promised to analyze.




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