There is great opportunities and challenges associated with the emergent ornamental fish market in eastern and NE India. Any opportunity for economic development in the neglected NE region is greatly appreciated and indeed there is enormous economic opportunity for youth interested in the ornamental fish business both in India and overseas including Middle East, China, SE Asia, EU, UK, Australia, USA and Canada.
However, I have one serious concern that I would like to highlight. The ornamental, fish business is targeting colourful indigenous fish species and not promoting breeding and multiplying internationally accepted commercial breeds. This is a double edged sword. International fish collectors will be certainly interested in new and exotic colourful breeds from NE India and certainly it will capture international markets in a short time with high economic returns if promoted properly. But there is also an inherent danger of trading with indigenous breeds. In a country that has very little or almost no respect and value for human life unless you are rich social elites, celebrities or politicians; will the state and the central government agencies of India be able to prevent mass poaching and illegal trafficking of wild fishes. Already the existing illegal wildlife black markets operating across China, Hong Kong, SE Asia is sending death sentences for several wildlife species across the planet.
I am highly concerned if the traffickers and poachers will start taking serious interest in indigenous wild ornamental fishes from NE India what could the consequence on the native ecosystem and aquatic environment across the region. The highly incapacitated, ill equipped and competitively corrupt environment, forest and wildlife protection agencies operating in most states in India are not even capable of handing current dismal condition of the local natural resources. I have serious doubts if they will be able to prevent a mass scale poaching on NE rivers, lakes and streams for ornamental fishes. Being economically backward, the NE region is extremely vulnerable and prone to exploitation. The rich natural resources and biodiversity of the region if not handled with due caution can set havoc in the not o distant future. I therefore request all concerned stakeholders to come together and discuss the pro and cons of exposing indigenous ornamental fish species to aquarium trade with due diligence.