Coimbatore: The fast breeding African catfish has emerged as a serious threat to native fish species in rivers and rivulets in Coimbatore with a real danger of local variety being wiped out.
The species Clarias Garipeneus, introduced a few years ago as part of aquaculture has proliferated in dangerous proportions in all rivers and ponds of the region.
This banned variety of fish, which feeds on native fish and waste, is being illegally sold in the market.
"We want to protect our indigenous fish, because in future they may become extinct. That`s why government has banned it (African Catfish). Otherwise, the fish doesn`t cause any harm to public, if it is properly cooked. So it is no problem. Some people, those are culturing it ignorantly, they are being warned and all that they have is being harvested. Further growth of this fish is banned," said Ravichandran, Deputy Director, Department Of Fisheries, Coimbatore Zone.
Farmers are tempted to breed the fish as it breeds faster than the native species and is popular among the locals for being tasty and cheaper.
"Every week we come here to buy fish and here we get this African catfish alive and fresh and this fish is much tastier than other fish and thus to keep the sea fish fresh they use ice bars and ice pieces even for many days and finally the taste is less and we get this African cat fish just for 60 - 70 rupees," said Chinnaswamy, a buyer.
The African catfish, commonly known as Thai Magur and Moi Fish in the state, was illegally introduced in West Bengal from Bangladesh two years ago.
According to the reports, it has entered into other rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sutlej and Godavari.