THE fisheries authorities in Nchelenge district of Luapula Province says an invasive fish species has invaded the Mweru-Luapula fishery.
Luapula District Research Officer Masiliso Phiri confirmed the presence of the alien fish known as the snakehead in an interview with ZANIS in Nchelenge yesterday.
Ms. Phiri said the predatory fish is indigenous to the South Eastern Asia, China, India and the Southern tip of Russia.
She said its presence is a source of worry because of its predatory nature to other fish species and that studies are underway to establish its impact on the natural fishery.
She raised fears that the decline of the fish stocks in the Mweru-Luapula Fishery may be partly blamed on its presence because of its versatility on the indigenous fish species.
She noted that 97 per cent of its diet is exclusively other fish species while the remaining three per cent comprise of birds, frogs, small reptiles and mammals among others.
She also noted that the snakehead fish excels in shallow ponds, swamps, canals and slow streams with mud or vegetated substrate.
She said initial studies have indicated that the strange fish locally known as ‘Gomogomo’ can survive for four days out of water in a moist environment and has the ability to cross from one water body to another on a moist land.
She added that the insidious species has posted an impressive four per cent of the total annual catches and that it can hatch between 25, 000 and 50, 000 young ones at once.
Ms. Phiri explained that the snakehead species was initially cultured by a European fish farmer in the ponds on the banks of the Lufubu river in the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC.
She said the notorious fish allegedly sneaked into the Lufubu river after the ponds burst because of the floods before it was eventually spotted at Chembe on the Luapula river in 1998.
She noted that over the years the alien fish has spread downstream into the rivers, streams and the Mweru Lake especially the breeding areas.
Ms. Phiri named Mifimbo and Mwatishi breeding areas, Kalungwishi river, Nshinda, and Kenani streams including the surrounding lagoons as some of the areas that have been invaded.
However, Ms. Phiri said the vicious fish has allegedly failed to go into the Bangweulu fishery because of the water rapids at Mumbotuta falls.