THE discovery of the Alligator Gar fish in Dal Lake by the Jammu and Kashmir Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) is a cause of concern for the local fish in Kashmir. This is the first time that this rare species of fish, which is native to North America, has been found in Kashmir. The fish has a crocodile-like head and razor-sharp teeth and its appearance has raised concerns that it could be an invasive species and pose a threat to the natural aquatic life of Dal Lake.
While some experts have said that the fish is not harmful, proper research needs to be conducted to determine whether it poses a danger to the local fish varieties in the Kashmir valley. The LCMA and fisheries department are working together to analyze the situation and determine how the fish reached the lake.
This is not the first time that rare fish have been found in Dal Lake, as a Grass Carp fish was discovered in 2016, and another was found in Manasbal Lake. It is important to conduct proper research to protect the local aquatic life and preserve the ecosystem of Dal Lake.
This is important as the Dal lake, and the rest of the Valley have already witnessed the decline of Schizothorax, a native fish species in Kashmir The numbers of this species have dwindled over the last four decades, and some of its species have already become extinct. Biologists have reported that only five out of the original 16 Schizothorax species can be found now, and even these remaining fish are under stress, with their numbers progressively declining.
The introduction of non-native fish species like trout and carp in the waters of the Valley is one of the major reasons for the decline of Schizothorax. The trout, being a carnivorous fish, started eating the eggs and fingerlings of Schizothorax, while carp have taken over most of the breeding grounds of this local fish. The rising pollution levels, encroachment, and diversion of water are also contributing to the destruction of the breeding grounds of Schizothorax.
The decline of Schizothorax is not only a threat to the local ecosystem. Efforts should be made to control the introduction of non-native fish species in the Valley’s waters, and measures like regulating fishing activities and reducing pollution levels should be taken. This is why the Alligator Gar fish poses a fresh threat. It could very well threaten the existing fish species in our water bodies. So, authorities need to probe as to how this fish made its way to Dal lake and also chart a plan of action to eliminate its presence in the water body. That is, before it is too late.
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