Fisheries Dept: Stop releasing alien fishes into our common rivers

A WHOPPING 50,000 giant freshwater prawn fry were released into four selected spots along Prai river on the Penang mainland.

The spots were selected based on the water flow and its suitability with the prawns’ natural habitat.

Participants of a recent ‘Conserve Freshwater Fishes’ programme at the Pengkalan Machang in Sungai Dua, Butterworth, took a boat out to the river to release the prawn fry into the river.

They obtained the prawn fry from the Prawn Hatchery Centre at Kampung Acheh, in Manjung, Perak.

Penang Fisheries Department assistant director Nabilah Mohamed Yusof said from 2014 to 2018, a total of 1,670,720 prawn and fish fry worth RM247,441 were released into Penang waters.

“There are a few guidelines set by the Fisheries Department when releasing fishes into common waters such as choosing suitable rivers that are not polluted.

Nabilah (left) briefing the participants at the programme in Sungai Dua, Butterworth.
Nabilah (left) briefing the participants at the programme in Sungai Dua, Butterworth.  

“Only the native species are allowed to be released based on their natural eco-system.

“Alien fish or prawn species are strictly not allowed to be released there. Only healthy fishes will be released. Their release too, will be done under suitable condition and in a safe manner.

“If alien fishes are released into the river, they will affect the biodiversity balance and habitat of the native fish species in the area,” she said.

Nabilah added that the department did not want alien fishes to breed in common waters, as they could end up becoming the dominant species that endangered the native fishes there.

She said lawbreakers who release alien fishes into the rivers could face a fine of RM2,000, adding that warning signs had been put up near the jetty to alert the public.

Through this programme, Nabilah said she hoped that the people would be more aware of the need to conserve freshwater fish resources for the future generation.