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Fishermen reel in invasive giant snakehead fish at Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake

Rush to remove invasive fish as it enters breeding season in July

A big haul of giant snakehead fish from Sun Moon Lake ( Facebook, 黃小四 photo)

A big haul of giant snakehead fish from Sun Moon Lake ( Facebook, 黃小四 photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Sun Moon Lake is battling increasing numbers of invasive giant snakehead fish, which strike prey such as frogs and endemic fish with speed and precision.

The long, muscular subtropical fish becomes more active when temperatures get hotter, typically breeding in July. And with recent rains replenishing Sun Moon Lake, local fishermen led by Huang Hsiao-ssu (黃小四) undertook a fishing expedition, netting 12 adult giant snakeheads during the Dragon Boat Festival (June 22), per UDN.

From nose to tail, the longest fish was nearly one meter long and weighed nine kilograms. Huang has pledged to continue fishing for this species to reduce its population. Earlier this year, Huang caught a record-breaking giant snakehead fish in Sun Moon Lake.

The Nantou County Department of Agriculture believes the invasive species was introduced to Sun Moon Lake by humans, which released them into the wild. Juveniles are brightly colored and occasionally sold at aquarium stores, with owners releasing them when they become less attractive as adults.

The spread of the giant snakehead fish has been due to its proficiency in hunting and reproduction, with many government agencies seeking assistance to control them. Unfortunately, water levels at Sun Moon Lake due to a drought earlier this year made it difficult to fish for them.

In June, when the rainy season returned, water levels rose, making it more suitable to catch giant snakeheads either through traditional rod fishing or laying pre-set lines with lead wires and baited hooks. Juveniles are also targeted through electrofishing as they travel in schools near the surface of the water.