Monday, October 06, 2008

Invasion of the predator fish

This blog has been championing the right of wildlife. Wildlife is best left in the wild. But when homospiens play GOD, the biodiversity is turned upside down. This is happening all over the world. Unless it affected us economically, nobody will think a hoot about this issue. Now it is affecting Malaysia. And now some people are waking up to this new menace - the predator fish! Our biodiversity of marine life could be heading for extinction! Welcome to Bolehland!
-------------------read story below-------------------
NST Online
By : Jennifer Gomez and Brenda Lim

An angling enthusiast with a peacock bass. The peacock bass and zebra cichlid (below) are causing havoc with riverine biodiversity in Perak and the Klang Valley. Photo courtesy of NST

KUALA LUMPUR: Local fish in ponds and rivers in Perak and the Klang Valley are in danger of being wiped out due to two highly aggressive predator fishes which are wreaking havoc in the waterways.

Environmentalists have raised the alarm that if the biological invasion by the carnivorous peacock bass and the zebra cichlid (both from the cichlid family) is not checked, it will cause havoc on biodiversity and the livelihood of riverine fishermen.

Where these two predator fish are found, they have moved to the top of the fish chain, even attacking the original "king" of Malaysian predator fish, the toman.

And that is why local fishermen are hauling in fewer toman, haruan, sebarau and udang galah.

These predator fish attack in groups and their prey are known to beach themselves in futile attempts to escape being eaten.

DHI Water and Environment Sdn Bhd environmental consultant Mohd Zambri Mohd Akhir is particularly concerned about the threat posed by the peacock bass.

"Now you can find these fish in Chenderoh, the most downstream dam in Perak. If it enters the other river systems in Malaysia that has unique local species, it is going to cause irreversible damage," warned Zambri.

He said the peacock bass was already robbing riverine fishermen of their livelihood as the problem had been around for nearly a decade.

"Fishermen in Batu Gajah and Tanjung Tualang are already facing this problem as their income has been steadily suffering over the years.

"The supply of udang galah is also greatly reduced, depriving fishermen of a decent income."

The peacock bass is from the Amazon in South America and can grow up to five kilogrammes. It breeds fast and protects its eggs and fry, giving it a high survival rate.

The zebra cichlid from Africa, however, only grows up to palm size, but is known for its notorious feeding habits.

Fisherman Ishanorzaman Jaimit from Kampung Gajah confirmed that there were many peacock bass in the mining ponds and rivers in Perak, but said that they only ate the small fish.

There is also increasing demand for the peacock bass. Fishermen get RM5 per kg for it, while the middlemen sell it for RM6.50 per kg.

The peacock bass is not usually available in restaurants but it is known to make it to the dinner tables of fishermen and anglers who catch it.

Vincent Chin, owner of the Malaysian Fishing Net website, however, insists that the peacock bass is a real threat.

"It was brought into the country as an aquarium fish more than 10 years ago. It is a real nuisance because it feeds on local fish. They are vicious and attack like a pack of wolves," he said.

Another riverine fisherman, Muhammad Isa, said the zebra cichlid, nicknamed ikan belang for its distinctive stripes, was a bigger threat.

"The zebra cichlid is a bigger threat to the local species than the peacock bass," he said.

"In rivers and ponds in my area, the peacock bass is noted for eating only the perimpin (freshwater version of the ikan bilis).

"The zebra cichlid, however, eats most fry. Even if we haul in these zebra cichlids, we do not eat them."


PREDATOR FISH: 'It got into rivers by accident'
NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: How did the peacock bass get into our waters?

Nik Mohd Rahimi, who manages Fly Fishing and Lure Casting Centre in Taman Pertanian Bukit Cahaya in Shah Alam, said that it got into the Perak waterways by accident.

"Some breeders were keeping it in a pond, and one rainy season, the pond overflowed, and that's how it got into the river system."

Nik Mohd said there was once a demand for the peacock bass as an aquarium fish, but owners soon found them troublesome to be kept as pets.

"It would eat the whole time, resulting in a lot of waste. After some time, the owners got fed up of having to clean the aquarium all the time and just dumped them into the waterways, increasing their numbers in the rivers."

He said although the fish has yet to make its way to Malaysian dinner tables in a big way, anglers and diners in Batu Gajah were creating a demand for it.

"You can get it in Batu Gajah for RM5 to RM7 per kg," he said.

Nik Mohd said he did not like the taste of the fish when he first ate it in 2001 but had since developed an immense liking for it.

"About 10 years ago, when we first caught it, it was a few hours later before we took it to a restaurant to get it cooked.

"It was horrible because the flesh turns pinkish if you don't cook it immediately. However, the kids just loved it deep-fried and with soy sauce on it."

He said the bigger ones were best eaten steamed, but advised not to eat the skin as it had a very strong smell.

"The flesh is juicy and tender, like the cod fish. The bones and head are usually used as stock for Chinese herbal soups," Nik Mohd said..

In South America, it is a delicacy, where the fish is grilled with salt wrapped in banana leaf.

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