The heavy spells of rain and floods in the delta districts in recent months have triggered fear among fish rearers over possible influx of alien fish species into fishing ponds.
Their main apprehension is the threat invasive species such as African catfish pose to native varieties. Though the African catfish is not reared by farmers in the central region, unlike in the western districts of Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, the fear of the rearers here is that the alien species proliferating in lakes and rivers could find their way into the ponds during the rainy season. According to a fish rearer, the African catfish can survive on land for a few hours and can crawl with the help of its pectoral fins to enter waterbodies such as ponds and wetlands during rainy days.
In parts of western region, rearing of African catfish is being undertaken in ponds. Farmers find it profitable to rear it since the operational costs is low. “There is no demand for African Catfish in the Central districts. Consumers do not patronise the African catfish due to its bland taste,” Amal Raj Xavier, Joint Director, Department of Fisheries, Nagapattinam, said.
Inland fishing, he said, was being undertaken on a large scale in Thanjavur, followed by Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam. The main varieties reared in ponds constitute catla, rohu and mrigal. No farmer in the delta region will be inclined to rear the African catfish, as the native varieties are quite profitable, Mr. Amal Raj Xavier said.
Also, there is a high level of awareness among the people about the difference in the taste of the African catfish and native varieties, he said.
The Fisheries department in many districts of the State have been issuing warnings that surreptitious rearing of Africa catfish will invite legal action.
Last August, the National Green Tribunal issued an order banning the farming of African catfish under the Biological Diversity Act, 2020.