SEMARANG – The results of a study conducted by a student of the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences (FPIK) of Diponegoro University (UNDIP) stated that the number of endemic fish species (fish that are specific to one area and difficult to find in other areas) in Rawa Pening, Semarang Regency continues to decline. In a study conducted in 2006, it was noted that there were several endemic fish species in the natural lake, but in a study conducted in March-October 2021, only three endemic fish species were found.

Through Research on Morphology, Morphometry and Genetic Diversity of DNA Barcoding conducted by a student of Aquatic Resources Management Study Program of Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences Undip, Nisrina Septi Haryani, who was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ir. Agus Hartoko, MSc and Dr. Diah Ayuningrum, this student successfully detected 3 species of endemic fish in the lake that formed naturally through the process of volcanic eruptions that flowed basalt lava and blocked the flow of Kali Pening.

Three endemic fish species that were detected from the analysis of 33 individuals were Nilem or Lumajang fish (Cycloceilichthys enoplos), Wader Ijo fish (Osteochilus vittatus) and Wader Bintik Dua fish (Barbodes binotatus). Referring to research records in 2006, there were 5 other species that ever existed, namely the Wader Pari Fish (R. lateristriata), Wader Putih fish (R. jacobsoni), Wader Andong fish (B. canchonius), and Wader Cakul fish (P. binotatus).

The decreasing number of endemic fish in the lake, which was originally a tropical forest valley, indicates a threat to biodiversity. The decline in the number of endemic fish species living in freshwater is a serious problem. In Indonesia, there are currently 275 endemic fish species whose existence are being threatened due to environmental damage, land erosion and habitat destruction.

Indonesia is the third richest country in the world in terms of the diversity of freshwater fish species. Experts say that there are 1,193 species in freshwater areas in Indonesia spread over three geographic distribution areas, namely the Sunda Shelf, Wallace Region, and Sahul Shelf. Most of them are threatened with extinction because of the damage that occurs in inland water areas.

The Dean of Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences Undip, Prof. Ir. Tri Winarni Agustini, M.Sc., Ph.D., said that she continued to encourage students and lecturers to collect information and complete data collection of endemic fish species based on morphological analysis, morphometric or meristic techniques and molecular analysis. The analysis is conducted by using DNA Barcoding method and studying phylogenetic relationships as well as level of genetic diversity. “We really appreciate the studies conducted to anticipate the extinction of endemic fish in Rawa Pening,” said Prof. Tri Winarni, on Tuesday (12/14/2021).

She hoped that there will be efforts for its preservation through conservation or other means to maintain and restore fish diversity in the largest natural lake in the province of Central Java. The Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences Undip is ready to cooperate to do so, because the scope of fisheries studies in Undip is not only marine, but fresh and brackish water.

According to her, endemic fish is a wealth that should be preserved considering that its existence is not only a biological wealth, but also has economic benefits that are useful for improving the community’s welfare. The potential of endemic fish is not only for consumption, but there is also potential for it to be ornamental fish.

The advantage of endemic fish in the context of consumption is that it has a distinctive taste and this can be a point for marketing local water resources. “In relation to ecotourism, taste is also important because people definitely want to try tasting these types of fish where the fish are located,” she concluded. (PR team)