Story | 16 Nov, 2023

A ray of hope for the endangered Mahseer Fish: Release of fish stock at the Kahuta Nallah

In a momentous step toward the conservation of the endangered Mahseer fish species (Tor putitora), a significant release event took place near 720 MW Karot Hydropower Dam. This initiative, aimed at safeguarding this endangered fish, carries substantial significance in the face of numerous threats to its survival, including habitat destruction and illegal sand mining.

Under this project, IUCN Pakistan is mandated to conserve & protect local biodiversity by controlling illegal fishing, poaching, logging and sand mining with the involvement of local communities, school teachers, students, government line departments, local NGOs/CSOs and district administration. The major components of the Karot Biodiversity Management Plan are Watch and Ward, Community and schools’ outreach, stocking of Mahseer fish, monitoring the implementation of Kahuta Nallah Restoration Plan and Sediment Mining Plan, enhancing technical and implementation capacities of the respective line departments and engagement of the relevant stakeholders. 

In his opening remarks, Mr. Asim Jamal, Project Manager for BMP Implementation at IUCN Pakistan, announced a significant milestone in the project's implementation plan. As part of this plan, the release of 300,000 Mahseer Fingerlings into the waters of Karot is one of the key objectives to be accomplished during the project's duration. As a preliminary action, Mahseer fish stocks were released today at Kanandi, situated near the Hollar Bridge, which marks the confluence of the Jhelum River and Kahuta Nallah.

The Mahseer (Tor putitora), a revered fish species, is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, signifying the urgent need for its protection. These remarkable fish are known for their impressive size, strength, and distinctive scales. The Mahseer holds cultural and ecological importance in many regions, making its conservation crucial for maintaining biodiversity and preserving local traditions. 

It is a widely distributed species in south and south-east Asia, with a restricted area of occupancy. However, the species is under severe threat from overfishing, loss of habitat, decline in quality of habitat resulting in loss of breeding grounds, and from other anthropogenic effects that have directly resulted in declines in harvest in several locations. 

As an endangered species, the Mahseer's conservation helps protect other aquatic life in the same ecosystems. A thriving Mahseer population indicates the overall health of the aquatic environment. 

The release of Mahseer fish into the Karot Hydropower Dam represents a crucial step in the ongoing efforts undertaken in the biodiversity management plan implementation by IUCN Pakistan to protect and rehabilitate this endangered species. 

IUCN Pakistan has also devised the environmental awareness campaign which involves the schools, nature clubs, the government line departments and the local communities. The release event served as an educational platform, raising awareness about the importance of protecting endangered species and the consequences of habitat destruction. Local communities, conservationists, and policymakers can further collaborate to ensure the Mahseer's survival.

At this important event, the Chief Resident Engineer, Karot Power Company Limited, Mr. Allen Gill Christer termed the release of fish stock a positive step for biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration. KPCL was also represented by Mr. Wang Yu, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Xang Hao, Senior Manager KPCL and their team. 

During the concluding remarks, Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan informed the audience about release of Mahseer fish, which represents a remarkable step toward their conservation. It serves as a beacon of hope, uniting conservationists, local communities, and environmental enthusiasts in the collective effort to protect this endangered species from the threats of habitat destruction, illegal sand mining, and overfishing. “By raising awareness and fostering sustainable practices, we can work together to ensure the Mahseer's survival and secure a brighter future for our aquatic ecosystems”. He further noted.

The fish stock release event was participated by the team of Karot Power Company Limited, CTG-CSAIL, Fisheries Department, Local government representatives, local community and students from the environmental clubs.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Hammad Saeed
Manager, Communications and Knowledge Management
IUCN Pakistan, Islamabad Country Office
Cell. +92 307 7773801