Mahseer hatchery-cum-carp breeding unit to come up at Sunni

Himachal water bodies have 85 fish species

Shimla: Golden Mahseer, which is considered as the world’s hardest fighting fish has been saved from the brink of extinction through a conservation plan launched to improve the status of this species in the reservoirs and rivers of Himachal Pradesh.

India’s nearly extinct ‘tigers of the water’ which have suffered severe population declines in much of its distribution range and declared endangered by the Washington-based International Union of Conservation of Natural Resources due to pollution, habitat loss and over-fishing is thriving at Mahseer farm at Machhial in Mandi District through artificial breeding in captivity.

The state government is setting up new Mahseer hatchery-cum-carp breeding unit at Sunni in district Shimla with an estimated cost of Rs 296.97 lakh to develop methods of breeding under safe conditions in hatcheries. Himachal Pradesh has become a stronghold of the Mahseer fish production in the country which was fast approaching genetic extinction worldwide. An estimated 10-12 thousand record highest hatching are expected during this year out of 41450 eggs produced in this year so far.

Around 28700 eggs of Golden Mahseer were produced in the state in 2018-19. The state has recorded highest 45.311 MT Mahseer catches in the year 2018-2019 which is one of the finest sport-fish and a source of recreation to innumerable sportsmen both Indian and foreigner. The state recorded Mahseer production from Gobind Sagar (16.182 MT), Koldam (0.275 MT), Pong Dam (28.136 MT) and Ranjeet Sagar (0.718 MT) respectively in the year 2018-19 respectively.

At present, 10893 families are involved in captive fisheries in the state out of which 5883 families are involved in riverine while 5010 families are involved in fish catches in reservoirs area. The state recorded 20900, 28700 and 41450 Mahseer fish eggs production in the year 2017-18 year 2018-19 and year 2019-20 (till present) respectively.

Animal husbandry and Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said that the state government has decided to release of 15 per cent of water discharge from hydroelectricity power during the lean season, conservation of fish through regular patrolling and implementation of the close season to promote the fish production in the state.

He said the Mahseer fish is present in around 500 km area of the hill state out of total 3000 km rivers out of which 2400 km constitute general water.

Mahseer is one of the best sports fish which attracts the anglers from different parts of the world. It belongs to Tor family and especially two species viz. Tor pitutora and To tor has been reported in the state. It is migratory in nature and travels long distance during monsoon upstream in search of an ecologically suited place for breeding containing high dissolved oxygen in the water. Despite declared as endangered species, it is found abundantly in the state which contributes about 10-15 per cent of the total catch in the state reservoirs especially in Pong reservoir.

Main focus of artificial breeding of Mahseer is its conservation and ranching of the river system with Mahseer seed to promote eco-tourism. There are many natural Mahseer sanctuaries called Machhial in the state water where it is conserved spiritually by the people and department of fisheries also conserve the fish by applying fisheries Act and Rules strongly.

As many as six mobile vans are being used in mobile fish markets to market fishes and insulated boxes have also been provided to reservoir fishermen.

The state’s water bodies are home to 85 fish species, including Rohu, Catla and Mrigal and Trout, both brown and rainbow. Total 492.33 MT fish has been marketed outside the state during last financial year.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.