Saturday, May 29, 2010
Save Our Tomans(Channa Micropeltes)
Of late, we have been seeing a steep climb in the invasive alien fish population in Malaysia. I do not wish to go into the specifics on how it got there but our eco-system seem to be changing due to the prolific reproduction of these species. What once was only the Peacock Bass, Jaguar Cichlids, Tiger Cichlids, Red Emperor and Flower Horn ; we now have Large mouth bass, Arapaima, Tiger Fish and other "exotics".
It has come to a point that their dominance in our local waters cannot be curtailed. With their huge population and their ability to adapt and dominate, our local species do not stand a chance to survive.
Make an observation in any lakes that have these invasive species and you will discover that the local species that used to thrive there are slowly but surely being replaced. Locals like the seluang or even the freshwater shrimps are being decimated at an alarming rate.
Even our Toman aka Giant Snakehead which was dubbed Fishzilla by the Americans is being edged out of its perch as the top of the food chain!
As anglers, you have to ask yourselves if this is the scenario that you wish for in the next couple of years; landing nothing but these so called exotic species. It would be a real shame if that was allowed to happen.
Anyone that has ever had a Toman on his line can testify that it is pound for pound more aggressive and exciting then any of the alien species. No deadweight but a thinking and crafty fish exploiting all avenues of escape from your lures. It is truly a Malaysian sports angler's gamefish.
It is however sad to say that our Toman is under pressure to survive as it is under attack from many quarters. It has to deal with lost of habitat due to development, competition for food with the introduced alien species, netters and last but not least from anglers not unlike ourselves.
We might not be able to change the lost of habitat nor turn back the clock on the initial introduction of the first alien species but we can help raise the Toman's chances of survivability.
I appeal to all anglers to release all Tomans caught especially the adults as there are the bearers of future generations of this marvelous fish. Take your picture if you must but please do not take its life! If indeed you wish to taste Toman meat, there are commercially farmed ones available at Tesco; sold at around RM 13/- per kg.
We have to realize that anglers pay top dollar to fish a gamefish like the Toman. Anglers would fly over continents just to have a chance to hook one up and yet release it to fight another day. If foreigners can do that, why must we destroy our God given heritage?
The Toman is even listed as a gamefish in the International Game Fishing Association! Doesn't that elevate its credibility from mere food to something more precious and worth protecting?
I must admit that a few of us have been releasing adult Tomans into the "wild"(read unattended lakes around the city) the last couple of years to help control the alien fish population and it seems to be working quite well.
However, things seem to be changing as anglers have been targeting them not for sport but for harvest. We have actually witness anglers embedding their parangs into the Toman as soon as it is landed. You can imagine our horror and heartache when we saw this but since he has the parang; who are we to question?
I wish to make an impassionate plea to all anglers to please, please release all Tomans caught. That fish is worth much more alive then dead. If you still do not see my point of view; here is another scenario that you might consider.
Many years down the line when the local Toman population has been wiped out and your children ask about the Toman, you will have to show them a picture of it in the library or perhaps make a trip to the nearest museum!
If you wish to fish for one, you will have to fork out top ringgit to have the opportunity at some payponds.
To put it in a nutshell, since Malaysia is already blessed with this magnificent fish, we should have the far sight to cherish and protect it for future generations.