Mini Mission - III: Establishing sanctuaries for conserving indigenous and endemic species
The importance of mahaseer as a world-famous sport fish is well known. Chocolate mahaseer (Neolissocheilus hexagonolepis) followed by Golden mahaseer (Tor putuitora) are the two predominant indigenous species of Meghalaya. Of late, a significant decline has been observed in most of their natural habitats. Mass killing of brood fish and juveniles by the use of dynamite, bleaching powder, pesticides, local herbs, electric current and other destructive methods has been one of the major reasons for the reduction of mahaseer population. The fish migrate upstream for spawning, feeding, and descend back after spawning. During both the phases of migration, the gravid and spent fish are killed due to adoption of illegal fishing methods. Their breeding ground comprising of stones, gravel, etc. have been replaced by large boulders, debris, silt, river pollution, resulting in destruction of spawning grounds of this group of fishes.
To save the species from further decline, it is the need of the hour that strict conservation measures have to be adopted and this will be one of the major tasks of the State Aquaculture Mission. Conservation is important at least for four reasons viz.,
- The species indigenous to the state are the wealth of the state and they require to be preserved for posterity
- They are also highly valuable food fish
- They form a source of livelihood for many fishers
- They offer a great potential as sport fish for promotion of Aqua-tourism.