Suckermouth catfish. — BSS photo.

The government has finally banned suckermouth catfish, locally known as sucker fish, as it poses threat to species in the open water.

The fisheries and livestock ministry issued the final gazette notification on January 11 banning import, culture, sale, supply and conservation of the fish, a handout said on Wednesday.

Earlier on September 25, 2022, the ministry issued a gazette to amend section 18 of the Protection and Conservation of Fish Act-1950 to ban the malicious aquarium fish species.

The latest amendment included sucker fish along with African magur and red piranha in the list of ban.

In the gazette, the ministry asked for complaints and advice from people over the issue within two months.

As no advice and complaints were found, the government took the final decision of amending the act.

According to the sub-section 2 of section 18 in the act, nobody will be eligible to import, export, cultivate, breed, transport, sell, market and conserve suckerfish from now.

Fisheries researchers detected at least 20 of the 30 alien fish species brought to the country over the past seven decades for rapid aquaculture expansion.

The species have escaped to open waters threatening the existence of many native fishes.

The exotic fishes were mostly brought in for aquaculture since 1950s.

The escaped alien fishes are mostly recognised as highly invasive for they have rapidly invaded open waters in some of their host countries after making similar escape, causing extinction of native fishes and destruction of aquatic ecology and livelihood based on it.

Earlier, the government banned exotic fish species piranha in 2008 and African magur in 2014.

African magur, scientifically called Clarias gariepinus, is still cultivated in Bangladesh, especially in pockets of floodplains during dry season.

The fish, a voracious predator feeding on everything coming across its path from fishes to livestock, are sold at its infancy to unsuspecting buyers as native magur.

Red piranha, scientifically called pigocentrus nattereri, an omnivore, is also banned for 13 years but is still cultured and sold in the market, even in the capital, as rupchanda.

Now the fishermen are finding the fishes in their nets on a large scale in rivers, canals, wetlands and ponds.

Among other exotic fishes – tilapia, common carp, black carp, mirror carp, bighead carp, scale carp, leather carp, grass carp, silver carp, Thai sharpunti, African magur, Vietnamese shol, Vietnamese koi, suckermouth catfish, mosquito fish, guppy and gurami – are found naturally breeding in natural sources in Bangladesh.

The government account showed that only half a dozen indigenous fishes were significantly contributing to the total fish production though there were 260 freshwater fishes in the country.

In 2015, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that at least 10 native fish species became threatened following a rapid decline in their number in 15 years since 2000, taking the overall number of threatened fish species to 64.

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