KOTA KINABALU: A fish museum is to be set up at Ranau in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu to build up interest and the conservation of freshwater fish in Sabah.
State Fisheries Department director Dr Ahemad Sade said the museum that was currently being set up was for education and awareness.
He said the department in collaboration with NGO Forever Sabah under the Freshwater for Future initiative hoped to revive the appreciation for fish taxonomy or classification in Sabah
“This will go a long way in ensuring all freshwater fish species are accounted for conservation,” he said in a statement.
Ahemad said the department’s fisheries complex at Likas near here would be positioned as the main DNA study and specimen collection centre.
“We hope to progressively set up the proper framework to educate the public and local fishery communities about the importance of conserving rare and endemic species in Sabah,” he added. The department had completed a study jointly conducted with Forever Sabah on the state’s freshwater fish inventory and from that had compiled a species masterlist.
The paper titled “A working checklist of the freshwater fish diversity for habitat management and conservation work in Sabah, Malaysia, North Borneo” was recently published in a Scopus indexed scientific journal Biodiversitas.
The key objective of the list was to set the foundation for driving freshwater habitat and species conservation work.
This is in line with the Third Sabah Agricultural Policy (2017-2027), Strategic Plan of Sabah Fisheries Department (2016-2020), National Agro-food Policy (2011-2020), Heart of Borneo Initiative, Sabah Biodiversity Strategy 2012-2022 and the National Biodiversity Policy and Plan 2016-2025
The study took one year to complete as comprehensive field study and review of scientific papers as early as 1962 had to be conducted.
It highlighted a total of 166 species in Sabah comprising 150 native species and 16 introduced species. A total of 36 species (24% of native species) were found to be endemic and with 15 species, ikan rokot are the most diverse genus.
Although ikan pelian in Sabah, ikan empurau in Sarawak and ikan kelah in peninsular Malaysia were treated as different taxonomical species, the researchers of the study have decided to itemise them as one species, the Tor tambra, for the time being until more genetic studies can be carried out. This is to minimise confusion until scientific proof is obtained.