After 14 years of absence, the Mahseer fish is again going to swim free in the Indrayani river, thanks to the efforts of a concerned NGO.
Friends of Nature Association (FONA) and Shashank Ogale, from Talegaon Dabhade have decided to breed the fish in the river.
Businessman and FONA founder Mahesh Mahajan and his team, along with Shashank, are also going to be provided funding from the Central Institute of Fisheries Education which has been sanctioned by the National Fisheries Development Board.
Mahseer fish, also known as the Himalayan Mahasher or Golden Mahasher disappeared around 1985-86 from the Indrayani River which flows through Maval Taluka.
Shashank Ogale, a senior fishery scientist, along with FONA, came up with the idea of breeding the Mahseer.
“In the early days, there were no dams and water was scarce. The toxicity in the water didn’t help either and after 1985-86, no Mahseer fish were found in this riverbed,” says Ogale who had been working as Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environment at Tata Power Company Ltd.
He knew that the Indrayani river had Mahseer fish, and he always wanted to restore it to the river. In the meantime, various dams had been constructed which helped to increase the water levels.
Shashank then got together with FONA and decided to start breeding these species.
Talking to Mirror, Mahajan said, “We got a lot of support from Shashank and he explained the technique of breeding to us. We applied to the Central Institute of Fisheries Education in February 2010.
We gave them a proper presentation as to what it was that we wished to take up. On September 27, 2010, we got a sanction letter from them. They agreed to provide us funds of Rs 1.39 crore for three years.
They have also shown interest in the possible extension of this project for two years.”
Ogale is chairman for the project while Mahajan and FONA members Mandar Kharmal, Prenita Chavan will be assisting him.
When Mirror asked Ogale about his experience working with FONA , he said, “The best part of FONA is that it is full of young people who want to bring about change.
They are aware of their responsibilities and are very enthusiastic.”
Process of breeding
Speaking on the technical points of breeding Ogale said, “This species is found in Himachal Pradesh and in the Kaveri river as well as in Nepal. We will get the eggs of the fish from Himachal and some small as well as big fish.
The eggs will be fertilised to produce more offspring. We are going to build artificial tanks and will feed the fish in them.
They will be kept in the tank for a while so that they get acquainted with the pressure and temperature of their surroundings.”
“After they are comfortable with the environment, we will keep them in cages which will be immersed in the river. In spite of being in the river, we will be feeding them artificially in the cages as well.
This whole procedure will take around one to one-and-a half years. After being habituated with the difference in the environment, we will set them free.
Simultaneously, FONA will carry out an awareness drive for the residents and the fishermen. “We will explain the scientific side of the matter to fishermen and tell them how to fish without disturbing the reproductive cycle of the fish.
We will tell them the period when fishing should be carried out to help and maintain the life cycle of the fish,” Ogale added.
Boost for Angling
Angling is a sport which is being mostly played with Mahseer fish. This sport is very popular in western countries as well as in Himachal Pradesh. The catch-and-release technique is practiced in this sport.
The player plays with fishing hooks for a given period of time and then sets the fish free, so that they survive, thus avoiding unintended depletion of the population.
Ogale and Mahajan are planning to start the sport in the Indrayani river as well.