CHENNAI: As the State is slowly waking up to the threat of the silent invasion of alien species, experts in fish and other marine studies urge that authorities should immediately put in place a mechanism to monitor and control the entry of foreign species into local habitats.
A study published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, which highlighted the presence of aquarium fishes Trichopsis vittata and Macropodus opercularis in Chembarambakkam, Red Hills lakes, respectively should come up as a wake up call in this regard.
Experts say both these are native to South East Asia, which could have made its way into the water bodies near the city through aquarium trade. Like all other invasive species, these fish could upset the aquatic food chain and even threaten the native fish population to extinction.
According to scientists in the National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, conservation of fish has never been adequately addressed in India. This, they allege, is mainly due to lack of scientific data, despite the clear threat such cases pose.
Scientists estimate that till now 324 alien fish species, including 291 ornamental fish, 31 cultivable fish and two larvicidal fish have been introduced to the Indian fresh waters.
Like in the case of Seemai Karuvelam, the government is equally responsible in introducing alien species in Indian waters. For instance, Mozabique Tilapia, a prolific breeder, was introduced in 1952 to enhance aquatic production.
The former director of Zoological Survey of India, K Venkataraman says the need of the hour is the immediate formation of a new authority that can regulate the entry of such species.