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Latest News: ‘Miss Kerala’ is Out of Danger

The Denison Barb (Miss Kerala), a native freshwater fish species commonly found in parts of Karnataka and Kerala, has been included in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, which has surprised some aquarists and ornamental fish breeders. In December of last year, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Shivam Dwivedi
Miss Kerala
Denison barb- 'Miss Kerala'

The Denison Barb (Miss Kerala), a native freshwater fish species commonly found in parts of Karnataka and Kerala, has been included in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, which has surprised some aquarists and ornamental fish breeders. In December of last year, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Beta Mahatvaraj of Chennai, an aquarium enthusiast who has been documenting native Indian fish species for years, highlights two issues in the Bill.

A Ban ‘Literally’

He claims that the scientific name Puntius denisonii, which was given in place of the common name Denison barb, is incorrect; it should have been Sahyadria denisonii. Even so, the species can be found in the Indian states of Kerala and Karnataka.

Based on the available data, he questions whether the species can be considered endangered. "Inclusion in Schedule I is essentially a prohibition." "It's like trying to keep a tiger at home," he says.

Nikhil Sood of Bengaluru, an ornamental fish breeder and exporter, believes that the trade of ornamental fish is being unfairly vilified, despite the fact that it has contributed significantly to the discovery of many species of native fish over the last 25 years. Denisonii was rediscovered as a result of the ornamental aquatic trade.

"This campaign to outlaw Sahyadria denisonii is old and, sadly, out of date." "When the fish was discovered 10-12 years ago, this rule would have been applicable," Sood says.

Sahyadria denisonii is found in nearly 11 rivers in Kerala and Karnataka, where it coexists with some of the most endemic aquatic fauna in the country.

He claims that the income from the collection of denisonii for the ornamental fish trade incentivizes fishermen to protect habitats.

"It would have been preferable to better regulate the trade in wild-caught fish and promote captive-bred fish, possibly by including the species in Schedule IV rather than Schedule I."

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