Conservation of the Killifish (Aphanius fasciatus) saving from extinction

The sub species of the fish Aphanius fasciatus is found in the South of Malta, where it is in decline.  In 1992, the sub species was present in two Natura 2000 wetland sites - I Ballut ta Marsaxlokk and Il Maghluq ta Marsascala- but, by early 2000, it was only found in the Maghluq site.  With the site facing pollution problems from agriculture etc, Nature Trust Malta decided to embark on a project to breed Aphanius fasciatus under a controlled environment with the aim to increase the population to a safe level and to also plan for its reintroduction into the other Natura 2000 site before it became extinct. In 2016, after obtaining a breeding permit from the Environment Resource Authority, Nature Trust - FEE Malta partnered up with the Aquaculture Directorate to start the project.  The project found support from the Bank of Valletta which co financed the activities. In total 10 pairs were taken from the wild.  Other organisims where also bred in captivity to ensure a supply of natural food for the fish. Following a 4 year programme, 500 fish have hatched as a result of the project. On 6 September 2019, the first 125 individuals were released back into the Maghluq Natura 2000 site in a monitored environment within cages.  This will enable the team to further study the behaviour of the released fish in their natural environment and also provide more data for further successful breeding and reintroduction actitivies.