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Fishermen worried over African catfish farming

Staff Reporter

— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Fishy issue: Members of Bangalore Meenu Krushikara Sahakari Okoota staging a protest against the ill-effects of African catfish, in Bangalore on Tuesday.

BANGALORE: Fishermen from Bangalore city and outskirts have expressed concern over the farming of African catfish in many lakes and tank beds of the city.

This banned variety of fish, which feeds on native fishes and waste, is being illegally sold in the market.

The fishermen said that this carnivorous catfish was affecting rearing of fish in Sankey Tank, Kundalahalli Lake, Tippagondanahalli, Mahadevapura and other lakes and tank beds.

“African catfish has been eating native varieties of fish such as Katla, Rovu and Mrugala. Despite the ban, some people are rearing it. The Fisheries Department has not been able to prevent it,” said V. Panduraj, who rears fish in the Kundlahalli lake.

B.P. Krishnaprasad of Bangalore Meenu Krushikara Sahakari Okoota said rearing of African catfish has been banned under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act. Anybody found rearing this catfish will be liable to imprisonment for five years and a fine of Rs. 1 lakh. “The Fisheries Department does not have a vigilance team to take action against those who rear this variety,” Mr. Krishnaprasad said.

A. Rayappa, who farms fish in the Mahadevapura lake, said African catfish was being sold in the market cheap. “Unlike other fish, eating it is harmful. It does not contain proteins, which is found in the native species. It is difficult for people to identify this catfish,” he said.

Therefore, the okoota has decided to create awareness among the people about the African catfish.

“Every weekend, we will assemble at one lake or tank bed. We will go around the area and distribute pamphlets brought out by the Department of Fisheries about the catfish,” Mr. Krishnaprasad said.

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