African catfish seized from Kattakada

Kerala


Acting on a tip-off, Fisheries department sleuths raided a private pisciculture unit near Kattakada and seized around 15,000 predatory African catfish.

The seized fish were destroyed as the farming of African catfish, an invasive species that poses threat to native aquatic species, was banned under the Fisheries Act 2014.

It is learnt that the unit authorities had brought the predatory fish from the neighbouring State via train. The officials would hold an adjudication on Friday and take penal steps if they were found guilty of the offence, said district fisheries authorities. 

An invasive species, the north African catfish has been found to proliferate in waterbodies across Kerala, edging out native aquatic species.

Generally known as African catfish ( Clarias gariepinus ), the species has been found to thrive in the Kundala, Mattupetti, Anayirankal, Munnar head works, Shengulam, Ponmudi, Kallarkutty and Lower Periyar dams and in all the tributaries of the Periyar river.

Native to Africa and the Middle East where it inhabits freshwater lakes, rivers, swamps and urban sewage systems, the African catfish was introduced all over the world in the early 1980s for aquaculture purposes.

The nocturnal predatory fish feeds primarily on living, as well as dead, animal matter, including fish, invertebrates, and small birds. Its ability to survive in shallow mud for long periods of time and its high tolerance for poorly oxygenated water gives it an edge over other native species.

Experts have called for steps to prevent the culture of invasive species like African catfish and Nile tilapia ( Oreochromis niloticus ) that have not been formally introduced in the country.



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