The Golden Mahseer has been saved from extinction through a conservation plan launched to improve its status in reservoirs and rivers of Himachal Pradesh, conservationists said on Sunday.
India's nearly extinct 'tigers of the water', which suffered severe population declines in recent years and were declared endangered by the Washington-based International Union of Conservation of Natural Resources due to pollution, habitat loss and over-fishing, is thriving in Machhial in the Mandi district through artificial breeding in captivity.
The state is setting up another Mahseer hatchery-cum-carp breeding unit at Sunni in the Shimla district with an outlay of Rs 296.97 lakh.
An estimated 10-12 thousand hatching was expected of the 41,450 eggs produced this year, a government statement said. Around 19,800, 20,900 and 28,700 eggs of the golden mahseer were produced in the state in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively.
The state recorded 45.311 tonnes of Mahseer catches—the highest so far—in 2018-19, and recorded its production from Gobind Sagar (16.182 tonnes), Kol Dam (0.275 tonnes), Pong Dam (28.136 tonnes) and Ranjeet Sagar (0.718 tonnes) in 2018-19.
At present, 10,893 families are involved in captive fishing. Of this, 5,883 families are involved in catching fish in the riverine and 5,010 in the reservoirs.
Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said the state was taking steps like release of 15 per cent of water discharge from hydroelectricity power during lean season, conservation of fish through regular patrolling, and implementation of close season to promote the fish production.
The Mahseer is found in 500 km of the total 3,000 km rivers in Himachal. It is one of the best sports fish that attracts anglers from different parts of the world.
It belongs to the Tor family, and two species have been reported in the state. It is migratory in nature, and travels long distance upstream for breeding during monsoon, in search of water containing high dissolved oxygen.