State Government through its conservation plan launched to save endangered Golden Mahseer from the brink of extinction has succeeded in improving the status of this specie in the rivers and reservoirs of Himachal Pradesh.
Golden Mahseer also known as the “‘tigers of the water” nearly about to extinct in country have suffered stern population declines in much of its distribution range and had been acknowledged as a endangered specie by the Washington-based International Union of Conservation of Natural Resources due to pollution, habitat loss and over-fishing. But now due to the continuous efforts of the State Government Golden Mahaseer is once again thriving at Mahseer farm at Machhial in Mandi District through artificial breeding in captivity.
Mahseer fish is present in around 500 km area of the hill state out of total 3000 km rivers area. Out of which 2400 km constitute general water. Fishery Department had produced around 92500 eggs of Golden Mahseer in the state during past three years. The state has recorded highest 45.311 MT Mahseer catches during these years. 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 in the year 2019-20 and in the year 2021-22 the production was 6.598 MT in Gobind Sagar, 0.381 MT in Koldam, 11.250 MT Pong Dam and 0.340 MT Ranjeet Sagar.
Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Virender Kanwar said that Golden Mahseer is one of the finest sports-fish and a source of recreation to innumerable sportsmen through the world and to promote the Mahseer production in the state the state government is taking various effective steps like release of 15 percent of water discharge from hydroelectricity power during lean season, conservation of fish through regular patrolling and implementation of close season.
He said that Fisheries Department is emphasizing its main focus on artificial breeding of fishes and by conserving and ranching of the river system with Mahseer seed would also promote eco-tourism in the state. The state recorded 20900, 28700 and 41450 Golden Mahseer fish eggs production in the year 2017-18 year 2018-19 and year 2019-20 (till today) respectively.
He said that there are many natural Mahseer sanctuaries called Machhial in the state water where Golden Mahseer is being conserved spiritually by the people and department of fisheries also doing commendable work in this direction by strictly implementing fisheries Act and Rules. It has also created opportunities of employment and strengthened the economy of fishermen of the state. So far now 10893 families have been involved in captive fisheries in the state out of which 5883 families are involved in riverine around 5010 families are involved in fish catches in reservoirs area.
Director Fisheries Satpal Mehta said that 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 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 percent of total catch in the state reservoirs especially in Pong reservoir.
He said that 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 state during last financial year. 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 government is also 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. It will go a long way in strengthening the fish farm infrastructure in the state. 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.