Policy / Systems / Technology

March 22, 2004


Himi City Sets Out to Protect a Threatened Fish, the Itasenpara Bitterling

Keywords: Ecosystems / Biodiversity Government Local government NGO / Citizen Policy / Systems 

Himi City in Toyama Prefecture, Japan, started capturing and breeding an endangered freshwater fish, the Itasenpara Bitterling (Acheilognathus longipinnis) in 2003. By the end of the 2003 fiscal year (April 1st, 2003), the city will finish building ponds for breeding the fish and start full-scale activities involving local people.

This cyprinid fish is a protected species in Japan, and lives at only a few habitat sites in the nation: rivers of the Nobi Plain (extending across Aichi and Gifu Prefectures), rivers of the Toyama Plain (Toyama Prefecture) and the Yodo River systems (Osaka Prefecture). Its population has plummeted due to the introduction black bass and other non-native fish as well as the deterioration of river environments, and so the Japanese government designated the fish as a rare species in 1995. [It is presently classified as Critically Endangered (CR).]

After Itasenpara Bitterling were found in the Mo River in Himi in 1990, environmentally conscious methods have been adopted in river improvement works. In 1998, the fish were also found in the Busshoji River, which flows through the same city. In response, research was conducted and it was found that the Itasenpara Bitterling were sharing habitat with carnivorous alien fish. This led to the decision that breeding the fish in secluded waters would be necessary.

The city captured young fish in May 2003 using procedures stipulated by the two related laws: the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties [-the species is also designated a Natural Treasure under this law-] and the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Aquarium breeding of the fish has proceeded smoothly with the help of the national Agency of Cultural Affairs and the Toyama prefectural government. By the end of this fiscal year, the city and local people will cooperate in developing this project into a full-fledged operation by building reservoirs and ponds with an area of 100 to 150 square meters in a valley outside the alien species-contaminated river systems. The city aims to promote community-based activities by local people, such as monitoring the reservoirs.

Himi City regards the Itasenpara Bitterling as a "regional treasure" and expects to continue conserving river environments and the breeding project so that future generations can enjoy local biodiversity.

Posted: 2004/03/22 09:09:56 AM
Japanese version