Mahseer plays an important role in the river ecosystem and is very popular among international and local anglers. Mahseer angling rose to a favorite sport during the British Raj in India.
A total of four species inhabit different rivers and lakes in Northeast India. Among them Neolissochilus hexastichus (Brown Mahseer) is found in River Diyung of the Dima-Hasao district in Assam. This species has long been synonymized with other species of Mahseer until the recent publication of a research article in the Public Library of Science (PLoSONE), USA, which has revived the species to be a valid name (Laskar et al. 2013). It is endemic to India (Assam), Nepal and Myanmar. IUCN reports its presence in the River Brahmaputra and Barak drainages in Assam.
However, due to threatened natural habitats and narrow distribution range and unabated fishing the species is rapidly declining. Beginning 2011 researcher Boni Amin Laskar has been involved in awareness campaigns to save Mahseers in Northeast India under the Rufford Small Grants Project.
A village level awareness program themed “Save Rivers, Save Mahseers” was held in the Dehangi M. E. School premise in Dima-Hasao recently. Eighty school students attended the program along with the teaching fraternity besides local villagers. Printed information on Mahseers were distributed in different localities in and around the district.
Addressing the gathering Laskar stressed on the importance of Mahseer conservation and explained how fish poisoning and dynamite explosions in rivers effect the Mahseer population and other aquatic life forms. He appealed the gathering to stop devastating malpractices of fishing that threaten the life cycle of the Brown Mahseer and ends long term harvesting of the species as food and game.
Following the program seeds of Brown Mahseer collected from River Diyung were stocked in Lake Dibarai in Haflong in a joint venture between the Rufford program and Waimijing (a local NGO based in Haflong). The objective of the venture is to boost Brown Mahseer seed production in Haflong and help replenish the depleting stock in the rivers.
Speaking on the occasion the District Fishery Development Officer assured all necessary assistance from the department to raise the brooders of Mahseer in Lake Dibarai. Seeds of Brown Mahseer are also stocked in the Jasingfa Aqua Tourism Resort at Dimoruguri in Nagaon.