SRINAGAR: Come November and centuries old practice of artificial breeding is repeated at Trout Culture Farm Laribal, only to maintain the supply and progeny of two trout species in Kashmir waters.
The two varieties of this fish cultured by the Department of Fisheries at this farm that lies in the lap of Dachigam Park, are rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), that are not only stocked in the Kashmir waters but are provided to private trout farmers for commercial rearing. Breeding of these species is a great event for us and it coincides with World Fisheries Day that is celebrated on 21st November every year, said MM Bazaz Chief Project Officer Gagribal.
He added that the practice started more than a century ago when FJ Mitchell, who ran the Mitchell Carpet factory at Baghi Dilawar Khan in old city around 1899, successfully reared the brown trout in his premises and later propagated it at the hatchery established at Harwan in 1901 fed by fresh water from Dachigam Nalla.
He brought the trout seed from Howeiton Scotland, trained the locals and established a hatchery. It was Mitchel who again in 1918 succeeded in bringing and successfully rearing the steel head strain of rainbow trout from England.
We are following the same steps, now at Laribal more than two kilometers ahead of the old Harwan hatchery, but on large scale, said Bazaz “ we have been successful in stocking various streams with 2. 5 lakh brown trout progeny produced at this farm in April this year.”
He said that brown trout are stocked in important snow fed trout streams and high altitude lakes and attracts local as well as foreign anglers.
“This is a best sport fish and anglers have to seek permission from the department and pay requisite fee for a day to carry angling at designated beat,” he said.
The popularity as a sport fish and as a food fish, trout now is widely distributed and commercially cultured in the various farms of Kashmir and Jammu with another farm at Kokernag producing more stock. The department also provides feed to the farmers from its feed mills established at Manasbal and Kokernag. The officials at the farm say that eggs need a lot of care and after proper incubation and passing on off several life stages that takes almost a year they are passed to farmers for rearing.
Muhamad Qasim, Chief Manager, at the farm said that initial days of breeding are critical to reduce mortality. Later the trout are generally cultured in concrete raceways or ponds that are supplied with fresh flowing water.
“The commercial trout culture is picking up fast and many unemployed youth have adopted this profession,” Qasim said.
Bazaz said that the department is also implementing various government run schemes with the latest one being the distribution of bicycles among fishermen to effectively market their catch.
We distributed more than 50 bicycles among fishermen living around Dal Lake and many more will be distributed by the department.