In-depth study on the Golden Ma­haseer to be car­ried out

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A project, one of the first in the en­tire Hi­malayan re­gion has been ap­proved for the sci­en­tific re­mote ra­dio teleme­try study on the Golden Ma­haseer to un­der­stand its move­ments and habi­tat. The Golden Ma­haseer is the most iconic and the tough­est sport­ing fresh­wa­ter fish in the world.

Bhutan’s rivers are con­sid­ered to be one of the last re­main­ing aquatic habi­tats for the Golden Ma­haseer pop­u­la­tion. How­ever, there is a lit­tle data avail­able on Ma­haseer life his­tory, habi­tat us­age, re­pro­duc­tive bi­ol­ogy, migration, and age-and-growth pat­terns in the wild riv- ers of Bhutan. Due to de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties, the Ma­haseer is said to be de­plet­ing and could go ex­tinct in the coun­try, if a proper con­ser­va­tion strat­egy is not im­ple­mented. There­fore, the Bhutan Golden Ma­haseer Con­ser­va­tion and Devel­op­ment Project aims to carry out its study in the Manas river basin cov­er­ing Mangde chu and Dangme chu and es­tab­lish a sci­en­tific base­line data of its pop­u­la­tion and migration pat­terns be­fore it is too late.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Julie from the Fish­ery Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion (FCF), USA, the project will set up 11 re­ceiv­ing sta­tions at the iden­ti­fied ar­eas and 30 nos. of Ma­haseer will be sur­gi­cally im­planted ra­dio trans­mit­ters. Such ra­dio teleme­try study is the first of its kind in Bhutan. The data will be colle

The Ma­haseer is one of the least stud­ied fish and is cur­rently listed ‘Threat­ened’ con­sid­er­ing its de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion. It is re­garded as an im­por­tant con­ser­va­tion in­di­ca­tor of the over­all health of the river sys­tems. Glob­ally, the Ma­haseer fish­ing is a multi­bil­lion dollar in­dus­try cre­at­ing thou­sands of jobs across many coun­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to Tshe­wang Tashi, the Project Direc­tor, the con­ser­va­tion of Ma­haseer can pro­vide good op­por­tu­ni­ties for Bhutan in be­com­ing one of the world’s best an­gling des­ti­na­tions. It is also ex­pected to en­hance the tourism sec­tor by at­tract­ing high end tourist through its sport fish­ing.

The project was for­mally launched by the Ly­onpo, Yeshey Dorji in pres­ence of all the stake­hold­ers. It will be im­ple­mented by the Depart­ment of Live­stock in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the WWF-Bhutan and FCF, USA with a to­tal bud­get of Nu. 7.54 mil­lion. It is a three year long project start­ing from March 2015 to Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Be­sides col­lect­ing the use­ful in­for­ma­tion on the Ma­haseer, the project will lead to the prepa­ra­tion of Bhutan’s first con­ser­va­tion strat­egy and plan to ef­fec­tively in­crease the abun­dance of Ma­haseer in the river sys­tems of Bhutan. It will fur­ther en­hance the coun­try’s econ­omy by ben­e­fit­ing the lo­cal liveli­hoods through its re­lated trade.

As per the Na­tional Cen­tre for Aqua­cul­ture (NCA), the Ma­haseer is also found in Pu­natshang-chu, Sarpang-chu, Mou-chu, Bhur-chu, Phibsoo-chu, Tak­lai-chu and Kan­i­makara-chu. The cen­tre is also work­ing to­wards the con­ser­va­tion of the Ma­haseer and has de­vel­oped a lo­cal tech­nol­ogy to breed the Ma­haseer through ex-situ.

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