Menmetso Trout Farm gets electricity supply, finally

Summit Report

Gangtok, 31 Aug:

Secretary, AH & VS Department, Sangey D Bhutia, Director of Fisheries, N Jaswant, along with other senior officials of the Directorate of Fisheries visited the Menmetso Trout Farm in East Sikkim. The newly connected electricity supply line at the Menmetso Trout Farm was inaugurated by Secretary, AH & VS Department, a press release informs.

On the occasion, the Directorate also organized an awareness program on Riverine Fisheries Conservation which was attended by fish farmers, fishermen and stakeholders. Sangey D Bhutia congratulated the officers and staff of the Directorate for the commendable work done in the recent past.

The electrification of the Menmetso Trout Farm, which has happened after 45 years of its establishment, is a remarkable achievement of the Directorate considering various hurdles along the way especially the lack of adequate budgetary provisions.

Further, he also urged the general public including the fishermen and stakeholders to come forward and support the Directorate in the conservation of Riverine Fisheries Resources.

Director, Directorate of Fisheries, N Jaswant, in his speech highlighted the importance of Riverine Fisheries conservation. He stated that the population of various fish species has depleted drastically in the recent past due to various anthropogenic activities.

Dr. Pushpa Tamang in the year 1993 had reported about 48 fish species in the drainages of Teesta & Rangeet River system of Sikkim. An independent study conducted by MoEF in the year 2002 had reported only 31 species. Further, as per a preliminary report of the ongoing study being conducted by the College of Fisheries, Lembucherra, Tripura, only 21 species have been reported in Sikkim.

He also stated that among the various reasons for decreasing population of indigenous fishes is the introduction of cat fishes in our riverine system. It is being promoted by a religious practice of the local people called Chettda whereby live fishes (mainly cat fish) are released in the river. There are around five locations where the population of these cat fishes are observed to be the largest. The cat fishes feed upon the small frys and fingerling of the indigenous fishes thereby decreasing their population. Apart from that illegal fishing practices like the use of poison, electric fishing by use of batteries/UPS which wipes out entire generation of fishes has been contributing to the loss of aquatic biodiversity.

The Director also highlighted that indiscriminate loss of aquatic biodiversity is going to have grave repercussions. The fishermen community who are dependent on fishing for their livelihood will be directly affected due to reduced catch. It will also affect the ecology in some way or the other causing the breakdown of the ecosystem. Therefore, the need of riverine fisheries conservation is of outmost importance at this point of time.

The Director also talked about the State Fisheries Policy which is being formulated by the Directorate of Fisheries for the first time in the State’s history. He further stated that the policy shall focus on:

1. Fish (Flesh & Seed) Production: With the objective to increase the per capita fish consumption of the state from a mere 1.2 Kg per annum to the national average of around 10 Kg the Directorate shall strive for increasing the fish seed and flesh production by formulation and implementing various schemes and programmes.

2. Indigenous fish conservation: Breeding protocol of various indigenous fish species shall be developed and regular ranching of the seed produced shall be done to increase the population of indigenous fishes in the wild. Apart from that, conservation of the breeding and feeding ground of various fish species by providing highest level of protection through some notification or declaration of Fish sanctuary shall also be done.