Fisheries Conservation Towards Sustainable Development in Tropical Environment

The wealth of aquatic living resources was assumed to be an unlimited gift of nature. This myth has faded in the light of the realization that aquatic  resources,  although renewable,  are  not  infinite  and  need  to  be  properly  managed, if their contribution to the nutritional, economic and social well-being of the growing  world  population  is  to   be  sustained.  Fisheries operations need to emphasize policy reform, explicit environmental and continuous monitoring for fisher-folk community development.  Based on above perspectives this study was aimed to determine the spatial distribution, fisheries diversity, water quality and surrounding environment  of some specific rivers, lakes and estuarine areas in Malaysia which have been distressing by human activities since a decade. The fishing gear will be consisted of gill nets, cast nets to catch all sizes of fish. The specimens will be fixed in 10% formalin solution and also preserved in 70% alcohol at the laboratory of the Faculty of Science, International Islamic University of Malaysia Kuantan campus. The morphological characteristics of the collected fishes will be documented by pictorial evidence as well reference for publication. The physico-chemical parameters: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, Nitrate, Nitrite, pH, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids and conductivity of both upstream and downstream of the riverine/estuarine water will be measured by using ‘Hydro lab’. Three community indices were utilized to determine fish community structure: species diversity, species evenness and species richness. The Shannon-Weiner diversity index, Berger‐Parker dominance will be applied to measure the species diversity of fish. It is expected that the findings from this study will be helpful to formulate the long term monitoring approach by the relevant authorities for the sustainable development of fisheries resources of these selected water bodies in this tropical environment in Malaysia

Species Diversity and Seasonal Distributtion of fishes in Pahang River

The Pahang river is the longest river in Malaysia and comprises greatest diversity of tropical freshwater fishes. The World Fish Centre, Malaysia has recognized that Pahang river could be utilized as Amazon river of South-east Asia due to its massive size and natural resources. Unfortunately, many species in Pahang river are increasingly threatened because of declining conditions in natural aquatic ecosystems. The greatest threats to these fish fauna arise from the environmental perturbations resulting from a rapidly growing human population along the Pahang river basin. The primary threats include: habitat loss and fragmentation; degraded water quality; impoundment of rivers; urbanization; and, non indigenous species. In fact, the seasonal distribution and species diversity of fishes along the different tributaries in Pahang river was not well documented since a decade. The commercial and sport fishes have been declining yearly due to indiscriminate fishing during spawning season along the different tributaries of Pahang river basin. Thus, Pahang state government has lost huge revenue and fish resources as well.  Based on this context, this study will be focused on diversity and seasonal distribution and species diversity of fishes in Pahang river. The sampling period will be scheduled from July, May, 2013 to April, 2015 to cover both monsoon and non-monsoon season. The fish will be collected by using different fish collecting nets to determine the spatial distribution of the fishes along the three main tributaries (Sungai Jelai, Sungai Tembeling and Sungai Pahang) of Pahang river basin. The distribution of fish will also investigate in both upstream and downstream of the river. The specimens will be collected and preserved in 70% alcohol at the laboratory of the Faculty of Science, International Islamic University of Malaysia Kuantan campus. The Physico-chemical parameters of the river will be determined to measure the microhabitat of the fishes in Pahang river to relate the distribution of the fishes. The Shannon-Weiner diversity index will be applied to measure the species diversity of fish of monsoon and non-monsoon seasons. The findings of this research will determine the spawning time and fish sanctuary of potential tributaries in Pahang river. Furthermore, this study could be instrumental in management decisions in terms of restocking of commercial and sport fishes for the sustainable development of fishes and boost ecotourism in Pahang River, Malaysia.

Genetic Variation and DNA Barcoding of Endangered Fishes in Pahang River

The Pahang river is the longest river in Malaysia and comprises greatest diversity of tropical freshwater fishes. Since last decade the fishes of Pahang river basin faces many anthropogenic threats including riparian and flood degradation, altered hydrology, migration barriers, environmental (climate) change, and introduction of invasive species and fisheries over-exploitation. Furthermore, inadequate  literatures or reference materials on genera and species represents a major problem for the sustainable development and stock assessment of endangered fishes such as Kelah and Patin under 2 families (Cyprinidae, and Pangasidae) due to commercially exploited round the year. Based on above perspectives the objectives of this study area: I) to establish the genetic variability of endangered commercial fishes of Pahang river using Microsatellite markers. ii)to determine the gene flow and migratory ability of selected endangered fishes. iii)to identify the selected endangered fishes using mitochondrial DNA marker (Cytochrome Oxidase 1 gene). Total DNA will be isolated from gill tissue using Promega WIzard Genomic DNA Purification Kit. The commercially available species specific microsatellite primers will be used in the amplification of scorable bands. The amplified products will be gel eluded using 5% Polyacrylamide gel. DNA extraction will be carried out based on the standard procedure. The PCR products will be gel checked and sequenced based on the standard protocols. The barcode sequences generated in this study will be subject to BOLD analysis online. It is expected this study will produce the inhabits Malaysian aquatic environments. It is expected that the study will produce the useful revision on genetic variation of these expensive endangered fishes Pangasius and Tor species which inhabits Malaysian aquatic environments. it is expected that the study will also generate a DNA database which will be deposited in National Center for Biotechnological Information (NCBI) for future reference and sustainable fishery management of fresh water fisheries resources in Pahang river and other Malaysian riverine water.

Systematic and Phylogenetic Relationships of SEA Catfish (Siluriformes: Ariidae), In Sabah and Sarawak Waters, Malaysia

Ariid considered as one of taxonomically problematic catfish group. They contribute to the socio-economics of the artisanal fisheries and are normally caught by gill nets, trammel nets and barrier nets; this fish is being marketed directly when caught, dried and salted. This study will focus on ariid species (sea catfishes) found in Sabah and Sarawak waters, since there were no clear records on their taxonomic status in Sabah and Sarawak waters. The main objective of this research are to determine the taxonomic status of ariid species found in Sabah and Sarawak waters, with the commentaries on their intra-familial phylogenetic relationships.  Clear diagnostic characters with photographs, species descriptions, and a ‘key to species’ will be established. Any new records of ariid species present in this study will be identified. The intra-familial phylogenetic relationships will be discussed based on the combination of morphological observation and molecular characterizations. A detail species level investigation on morphological variations using discriminant function analysis and molecular characterizations using partial COI gene will be determined at species level to observe the supplementary taxonomic information of the ariid species.  This study will provide clear diagnostic characters, species descriptions, and a ‘key to species’ of ariid species in Sabah and Sarawak waters, which have never been documented yet. Morphological variations and molecular characterizations will be examined at species level that could provide supplementary taxonomic information. The intra-familial phylogenetic relationships of ariid could provide morphological and molecular data of ariid groups, to clarify their relationships. Overall, the description on ariid taxonomy that will be studied could contribute significantly on the improvement of ariid taxonomy in Malaysia and South-east Asian countries as well. These information also could assist for a better conservation management plan for ariid species in Malaysia.

Microbial Diversity of Pekan Peat Swamp Forest Soil and Their Functional Potential Through Cultivation and Metagenomic Approach

Tropical peat swamp forests are important and endangered ecosystem but are poorly understood in regards to their ecology and biodiversity. The South-East Pahang Peat Swamp Forest (SEPPSF) that lies in Pekan district is believed to be mainland Asia’s largest and least disturbed peat swamp forest. Due to the highly acidic environment, low concentrations of nutrients and anoxic condition, commonly identified microbial species in the peat swamp environment are slow-growing, difficult to isolate and manipulate in the laboratory. This project aim to determine the biodiversity of the microbial community in the Pekan peat swamp forest soil by a combination of molecular and cultivation approach. The attempt to cultivate microorganisms from this environment will be conducted using suitable growth medium that mimicked the acidic peat swamp environment. Metagenome isolated from the peat soil sample will be subjected to 16s and 18s rRNA study to establish biodiversity of the microbial community in this environment. As for the functional study, metagenomic library will be constructed and subsequently screen for potential enzymatic activities via agar-based screening.Cultivation approach anticipated for the isolation of novel acidophiles. Enzymes isolated from the peat soil sample are expected to be capable of processing recalcitrant organic material under harsh condition (low pH, anoxic), that is suitable for application in the waste treatment industry

The Effect of Monsoon on Fish Larval (Ichthyoplankton Stages) Assemblage Changes in Kuantan River

Kuantan river has experienced severe monsoonal hit during the recent monsoonal cycle with an average of at least 60% above the normal rain fall rate. This has brought in considerable amount of land based pollution due to river run off and sink in the river banks. At present, more than 300 families depend on the fish catch from Kuantan river and over 150 small boats were indulging in fishing every day. it is also believed that few sensitive species were disappeared due to pollution threat. Above all, the construction of Dam 'locally known as cobalt dam' in midway through acting as a barrier for fishes from upstream to migrate to downstream and viseverse. Hence the present inventory study is proposed to address following issues

i) To prepare the checklist on the available ichthyoplankton richness after the recent monsoonal hit in Kuantan river,

ii). To DNA Barcode the Ichthyoplankton from Kuantan river and its tributaries using universal mitochondrial DNA marker(COI).

iii). To investigate the effect of post-monsoonal hydrological conditions in altering Ichthyoplankton assemblage.

DNA barcoding of selected commercial fishes in Pahang river

The Pahang river is the longest river (420 km) in Malaysia and comprises rich diversity of tropical freshwater fishes. Recently, fishes of Pahang river basin is facing serious anthropogenic threats including over exploitation of natural fishery stock, habitat degradation, constantly altered hydrology and introduction of invasive species. We adopted conventional taxonomical approach to identify species and cross examined using universal barcode gene Cytochrome Oxydase Subunit 1 (COX1) gene. We sequenced commercially important and endangered species of Pangasius sp. and Tor sp. Collected from Pahang river.  Universal barcode gene BLAST analysis clearly revealed the presence of 3 species of P. hypothalamus (or) Pangasius nasutus, Pangasius bocourti, and Pangasius polyuranodon and 4 species of Tor namely Tor tambrides, T. mekongensis, T. mussullah and T. dongnaiensis in Pahang river. Interestingly, out of these four (4) species later three (3) are newly recorded in Pahang river and Malaysia as well. The name of these fishes were not documented earlier by any taxonomist in Malaysia and ASEAN regions. Due to overlapping morphological characteristics among these species, it is suggested that DNA barcoding technique would be a best method in quick identification with high accuracy. As Tor sp. is noted to be one of the endangered fish worldwide (as noted by IUCN Red List data sheet). The water quality did not show any significant differences (P>0.05) among the sampling stations. Thus, a continuous monitoring through studies on genetic variation is an essential need for the sustainable development of these endangered fishes in Pahang River, Malaysia.

Captive Breeding and Induced Fertilization of Malaysian Horseshoe crab (Tachypleus gigas) for Sea Ranching and Future Artificial Sanctuary

Horseshoe crabs fishery is recently attracted by Malaysian fisherman due to high demand and market price. The price of horseshoe crab has increased dramatically from RM2/piece (in year 2010) to RM 15/piece (in year 2015). Due to high market value, they are being harvested even before they reach shore (mainly through handpicking during full and new moon time) by fishermen in Pahang, Johor and Melaka. This eventually will lead to depletion of natural stock size. Hence, this research will focus on developing seedlings (trilobite larvae) of horseshoe crab which can be used to restore the natural stock. Captive spawning technique will be adopted to  spawn the adult horseshoe crabs (Tachypleus gigas) in rectangular tanks and the fertilized eggs (N=100000 target) will be incubated until they reach trilobite and post trilobite stage (up to 18 months). After determining the healthy condition of seedlings, Sea ranching program will be conducted to restore the natural stock in batch wise manner in selected nesting beaches (Pekan,  Balok in Kuantan and Air keroh, Melaka) which can be used to establish future horseshoe crab sanctuary to attract and inspire tourists. This practice can be continuously carried out to manage the sustainable fishery practice of horseshoe crab in Malaysia. It will also be a way forward for developing Artificial sanctuary for this exotic species. In future, the ranching spot can be of tourist attraction similar to a sanctuary in Delawary bay, US.

Conservation of Malaysian Horseshoe Crabs-A step For Sustainable Fishery Practice

Recent information on the wild horseshoe crab in Malaysia shows that the population in the natural habitat is dwindling due to various anthropogenic activities primarily including habitat degradation and alteration of nursery beaches for various fishery and recreational activities. Various measures have been taken to ensure the future sustainable fishery of this living fossil by adopting captive breeding practice and invitro fertilization of eggs. However, due to the recent fatwa ‘islamic verdict’ in 2010 and high market demand, the female crabs are highly harvested from Malaysian waters and even exported to neighboring countries such as Thailand. This in turn increased pressure on wild population size and sex ratio. Hence, present study was aimed to study their population structure and subdivision in Malaysian waters by conventional and genetic approach and their by ensuring sustainable fishery practice in Malaysian waters. Apart from this approach, various other measures and studies will be conducted to conserve horseshoe crabs fishery in Malaysia. Horseshoe crab samples will be collected from various nesting grounds and wild habitat and their population size will be determined. Tor the conservation practice, invitrofertilization techniques and its reliability and effectiveness will be determined. This practice can be continuously carried out to manage the sustainable fishery practice of horseshoe crab in Malaysia. It will also be a way forward for developing Artificial sanctuary for this exotic species.

Molecular Phylogeny and Population Genetic Structure of Southeast Asian Horseshoe Crab, Tachypleus Tridentatus in Malaysia

Horseshoe crab population is facing serious problem in recent years due to habitat degradation, pollution, fishery pressure on natural stock etc. This will have apparent effect on their genetic diversity and inter genetic relationships among populations of a species. In this study we will examine phylogeographic relationships and population genetic structure of Southeast Asian horseshoe crab (Tachypleus tridentatus) found throughout Malaysia. By comparing genetic relationships and population structure, we can uncover deep historical patterns resulting from major geological events such as mountain uplift, sea level fluctuation, and climatic shifts. Understanding how species responded to such events in the past, may help us to predict how they might respond to changes in the future. Thus, there is a need to conduct a study on nested hierarchical analyses to investigate the genetic structure of Malaysian horseshoe crab (T. tridentatus) along the full geographic range at different scales. Thus the objectives of this study includes uncover historical dispersal patterns of horseshoe crabs in Malaysian waters, 2. to investigate population genetic structure of horseshoe crabs and 3. to identify phylogenetic relationship among their conspecifics. Mitochondrial 16sRNA and AT-rich region will be amplified with set of species specific primers and gene sequencing will be carried out. Overall, the output of this study will be informative for future commercial use, conservation and stock management strategies, breeding program and government policies for our horseshoe crabs population.