Freshwater fish in India, especially the ones that occupy cold-water regimes, are increasingly becoming threatened due to overexploitation, loss of biodiversity and anthropogenic interventions. Angling is a good way to raise awareness about freshwater fish, where fishing is engaged in as a sport. The fish is released once the catch is measured and photographed.
India’s mahseer fish species found in the Himalayan river basins offer abundant opportunities for water angling activities. The mahseer fish is known for its mammoth size and for being the world’s famous game fish. These fish seek cool waters as its habitat and such gaming spots in the Himalayas provide good eco-tourism opportunities encouraging development in the region.
Areas where freshwater fish like mahseers are distributed are widely dispersed and in some cases remote. There is a need for the involvement of local communities and relevant stakeholders for developing conservation strategies, scientifically for freshwater fish. Engaging community and stakeholder participation in research lays the foundation for co-management and shared responsibilities. As knowledge about the status, number and management statistics of these freshwater fish are unavailable, a collaboration between scientists and anglers can provide valuable data that can inform future conservation actions in order to save these species from becoming extinct.
With human intervention rapidly rising near rivers, disturbing the natural flow of the river, mahseers are increasingly turning endangered. Thus indiscriminate hooking and fishing methods which are unacceptable are leading to its extinction. This should be avoided and angling activities promoted that treats it as a ‘catch and release’ sport, encouraged.
There is a need to strike a balance between conservation of freshwater fish species and economic development of the people of the region. There is a need for fish based ecotourism, which maintains equilibrium between conserving the species and promoting livelihood to the people. This would require intense research and development into promoting the concept of recreational fisheries along with an action plan for sustainable development of mahseer.
One such Initiative has been proposed by Indian Council for Agriculture Research – Directorate of Cold Water fisheries research, Bhimtal in Collaboration with Jasingfaa Aqua Tourism Resort & Coldwater Fisheries Society of India from 1st-2nd October, 2016 at Nagaon, Assam. This interactive meet would include scientists, stakeholders and entrepreneurs from all over India covering Indian Council for Agriculture Research institutes, South Asian Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendra’s, State Fisheries Departments, Angling Associations and NGOs working on the thematic area. The interactive meet would focus to identify issues related to understanding and promoting mahseer eco-park/sanctuary involving the angling association; developing strategies and suitable action plan for conservation and sustainable development of mahseer and other game fishes; employment generation through fish based eco-tourism centers in North East India.