Kapit is often synonymous with it's flagship fish species due to its location at the upper reaches of Rejang, a natural habitat to many indigenous fish species. One of the most sought-after freshwater fish is empurau fish. Empurau is a highly esteemed fish in the state. Generally this fish lives in swift, clear, rocky-bottomed streams, in the upland zone of a river system. Small individuals may be found in shallow water, but adults live in deeper pools.
Picture: Empurau fish
In Sarawak, empurau is found in most of the upper major rivers such as Rejang, Baram, Limbang and Batang Ai. In Rejang, three types of empurau are distinguished: empurau burak (white), empurau merah (red) and empurau chelum (black).
Its natural food consists of plant parts like leaves, fruits and flowers. Its natural population is rather small. Its popularity and environmental degradation have further contributed to a drastic decline in its population over the years. Empurau can attain a size of more than 20 kg in weight and fetches a market price of more than RM160 a kilogramme.
A lot of confusion still exists as to what distinguishes empurau and semah, its close relative. The presence of a long median lobe on the lower lips in empurau and the lack of it in Semah, is a main distinguishing physical feature.
In 2004, the Tarat Indigenous Fisheries Research & Production Centre made a breakthrough in the artificial breeding of the fish. This fish therefore, has good potentials for aquaculture industry in the state.