NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Oct 25 - The Golden Masheer is fast moving towards extinction in Subansiri river, thanks to the indiscriminate fishing of its fingerlings and yearlings by some local people.
The exotic fish, which is also a dream choice for the anglers across the world, is found only in two tributaries of the river Brahmaputra, originating from the Himalayas � the Jiyabhorali in Sonitpur district and the Subansiri in Lakhimpur district.
The small ones of the fish, measuring hardly 6 cm have been caught indiscriminately in the river near the Subansiri bridge area under Chaul- dhowa Ghat Police Station of Lakhimpur district.
The fingerlings of the Golden Masheer, which would have become as large as 10 kg in weight after a month, were found being sold on the roadside on NH-15 these days. They are being caught with nets called �Fasijaal� with meshes less than 7 cm. Fishing with nets such as �Beraqjaal�, �Mahajaal�, �Fasijaal� etc., which have meshes less than 7 cm, is prohibited under Section 23(1) of Assam Fishery Rules of 1953 from May 1 to July 15 for catching brood fish.
This prohibition also includes the fishing of Golden Masheer along with other species. Though the district authorities clamped down prohibitions under Section 144 of the CrPC during the breeding season this year, fishing has been continuing since the expiry of the stipulated period, almost two-and-half-months ago.
The nearest forest beat office of Duloong Reserve Forest seems to be completely insular to this indiscriminate fishing of the fingerlings of Golden Masheer, categorised as an endangered species by the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR)-Lucknow as early as in 1992 and International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN)�s Red List of threatened species.
It is a cold-water fish whose habitat has high oxygenated water with rocky bed. This spectacular fish belonging to the Barbus tor putitora is a migrating fish, which moves to warm waters during the winter. But before they can become full grown, the Golden Masheer is caught with fishing nets having smaller meshes in Subansiri river in the district.
Green Heritage, a conservationist group based in North Lakhimpur, has expressed great concern over the catching of this endangered fish and has urged the concerned authorities to check this menace.