A key meeting between a range of stakeholders, including the Mahseer Trust and Tata Power, has met with the aim of halting the decline in the endangered hump-backed Mahseer from rivers in India.
The legendary hump-backed Mahseer, one of the world’s most iconic freshwater fish, was previously reported to have been on the brink of extinction, according to scientists from Bournemouth University in the UK and Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS).
An historic two-day meeting, co-hosted by Tata Power and Mahseer Trust in the beautiful surroundings of Lonavala, India, has brought together a unique coalition to enact a wide-ranging strategy with the aim to conserve the endangered hump-backed mahseer from extinction.
Kaveri Mission will coordinate an interstate effort, including Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to implement a number of micro projects to address a broad range of issues that affect the health of the Cauvery River catchment and the rapidly declining population status of this iconic fish, which is endemic to the Cauvery and found nowhere else in the world.
Using a motto of ‘Respect the Goddess’, Mahseer Trust chairman, Steve Lockett said, “We recognise that without support through many agencies, and, crucially, those who interact and use the river and its tributaries on a daily basis, we cannot save this impressive fish, which is now on the brink of extinction.”
International fisheries expert and scientific advisor, Adrian Pinder presented the latest findings from on-going research conducted by Bournemouth University (UK), which demonstrates the immediate need to take effective steps to protect this legendary fish, capable of attaining sizes of well over 50kg.
Adding input to the debate were such bodies as WWF-India, Bombay Natural History Society, IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, Kerala Agricultural University, Zoo Outreach Coimbatore and Tamil Nadu Forestry Department.
Lively discussions included the pros and cons of captive breeding, habitat availability, flow requirements, pollution control and the potential socioeconomic and health benefits to local communities.
At the conclusion of the event, all delegates agreed on the pressing need to afford effective protection of the limited stocks still remaining. Working in collaboration with the local communities and wider population will involve art projects and education outreach from a number of expert providers.
Ever since the publication of HS Thomas’s A Rod in India in 1873, this giant member of the carp family has been known to anglers around the globe as ‘one of the largest and hardest fighting freshwater fish in the world’. With its distribution having always been limited to South India’s River Cauvery basin, this fish is now believed to be so endangered it may be extinct in the wild within a generation.
For more information about the humpbacked Mahseer or the Mahseer Trust, visit www.mahseertrust.org.