Kelantan plans to set up Ikan Kelah Foundation
KOTA BHARU Nov 17 - The Kelantan state government plans to set up a foundation for the ikan kelah (Malaysian Mahseer) in an effort to increase the numbers of the freshwater fish which has high commercial value, said Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat on Monday.
Its establishment would help in the collection of funds, including from abroad, for re-populating the fish which is said to be near extinction.
Sungai Nenggiri near Gua Musang, has been identified as the biggest natural habitat for ikan kelah in Malaysia, Nik Abdul Aziz he told reporters after witnessing an agreement signing for a study on the freshwater fish between the Kelantan state government and Titiwangsa Heritage Sdn Bhd.
The Kelantan state government was represented by the state financial officer, Mohd Aiseri Alias, and a director of the Kelantan state eocnomic planning unit (UPEN), Datuk Md Yusof Noh, while Titiwangsa Heritage Sdn Bhd was represented by its managing director, Shariffuddin Budin and director, Zahari Man.
Ikan kelah, a popular species with local and foreign anglers, can grow to as big as 30 kg and a "live" fish below 10 kg is priced at RM1,800 a kg.
Nik Aziz said ikan kelah can be an eco-tourism product and there could be economic spin-offs when anglers came in greater numbers to the state.
He also said the state government would advise the orang asli community to help nurture one of nature's treasures.
Shariffuddin said the project undertaken by his company would eventually benefit some two million anglers in the country who appreciate ikan kelah.
Titiwangsa Heritage will start work on rearing and re-populating ikan kelah at the estuary of Sungai Nenggiri covering 501.7 ha over the next five years.
The bumiputera-owned company, which has an authorised capital of RM100,000 and a paid up capital RM25,000, has experience in a number of eco-tourism projects.
The large estuary, which also encompasses Sungai Perias and Sungai Puian, is home to elephants, sumatran rhinoceroses, tigers and exotic flora like the world's biggest flower, the rafflesia.
Shariffuddin said Titiwangsa Heritage would immediately study the existing threats to the biological system at the estuary of the river and recommend preventive measures.
The company would endeavour to get co-operation from the local community and government departments associated with the area to improve the standard of living and the welfare of locals.
The inhabitants in the more than 20 villages at the downstream end of Sungai Nenggiri depend mainly on agriculture like tapping rubber, growing vegetables and animal husbandry for their livelihood while the orang asli at the upstream portion of the river depend on the nearby forests and river as a means of living.
Shariffudden said his company would seek the co-operation of government deartments and agencies to tighten regulations governing fishing in the area with the aim of increasing the fish population.
"At present, anglers in the area are required to register with the Gua Musang district office to ensure that illegal methods like using poison, explosives and electrical charges were not used to destroy the living species in the river, he said."