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The Perlis Fisheries Department staff releasing freshwater fish fry at Timah Tasoh dam, Perlis. Pix by Azhar Ramli

PADANG BESAR: The state Fisheries Department has identified two more species of predator fish lurking in the Timah Tasoh dam.

State Agriculture and Agro-based committee chairman Ahmad Bakri Ali said the presence of Geophagus and Melanocitus Johnsonii, both of which are imported species, is a cause for concern especially for freshwater fishermen in the area.

He feared that the ruthless predators would feed on the native fish including the newly released fry, in the man-made lake.

This would give a negative impact to the ecosystem as well as the livelihood of the freshwater fishermen who are dependant on the native fish as source of income.

"It is hoped that the department could take swift actions to overcome the predator problem soon for the sake of the ecosystem at the Timah Tasoh dam and for the welfare of the fishermen," he said in a press conference after releasing 54,647 'lampam' and 'puyu' fry at the Timah Tasoh freshwater fish sanctuary.

The programme was held simultaneously across the country in conjunction with the pre-launch of the 'Gelombang Nelayan Nasional' (GNN) programme.

This year alone, the department has released 405,000 freshwater fish seedings such as 'baung', 'terbul' and 'jelawat' in Timah Tasoh dam, aimed at increasing the native fish population while in turn improving the livelihood of the fishermen.

He also expressed hope that the initiative would draw more tourists especially anglers into the state.

Meanwhile, state Fisheries Department director Ismail Ibrahim said measures have been taken to curb the growth of the predator fish population in the lake including conducting a series of awareness programmes to fishermen and which would be extended to the public in near future.

The department is also working on controlling the growth of the predator fish population by allowing avid anglers to fish in the lake.

" We have yet to identify how the imported predator species ended up in our lake but it is believed there were cases where the fishes was released by owners who could no longer afford to rear their fish in the aquarium.

"For the time being we are stressing on proactive awareness campaigns to educate the fishermen and villagers on the negative impact of the predators in our lake," he said when met.

In April, it was reported that a number of freshwater fishermen raised their concern over the increasing numbers of the Brazil origin Peacock Bass, which is popular among anglers but has no commercial value due to its tasteless flesh, in the lake.

Some claimed that the number of local fish caught has dropped by almost 20 to 30 per cent, while the number of the predator fish is increasing tremendously.

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