By Haziq Qayoom alone
AALTHOUGH five species of trout have been tried for cultural practices in Kashmir, most failed either at the reproductive stage, e.g., splake (which failed to reproduce after stock matured – eventually all the stock has perished) or at the stage of embryo formation in the egg, for example, Sebago salmon. Eastern brook trout have found their feet in Kashmir in clear numbers, thanks to poor hatching success. And therefore, the spread of its culture has always been close to the zenith. Brown trout, which require better water quality conditions with higher oxygen requirements and lower temperatures, have proven difficult to culture in flow systems across Kashmir. The only species of trout that has flourished left, right and central in Kashmir is the rainbow trout. Known for its relatively “hardy” nature, the fish tolerates lower oxygen levels and temperatures of up to 25°C for longer periods of time. The fish has been given its own identity in the cold water fisheries of the Indian subcontinent, especially in countries like India, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. Cashmere remains unrivaled in production in India.
Although sufficient, trout production in Kashmir is well below realized production potential. The main reason being the failed market structure and narrow market channel inside and outside Kashmir. Indian government should try to facilitate the marketing of trout in mainland India by creating a channel that can run from every district of Kashmir to affluent neighboring UT/states, such as Delhi, Chandigarh. This extension can then be taken directly from Trout Villages as Villages exist in close proximity to each other, usually in the highlands. This will surely encourage more farmers to take the initiative and become trout farmers.
A huge swath of Indian population ignores the name rainbow trout let alone the benefits of eating it. Majority of restaurants in Kashmir do not serve trout, let alone other states in India. Restaurateurs as well as breeders should be encouraged to serve trout on the table. They could be encouraged to pin posters and brochures showing factual information about trout meat and its benefits. In fact, the Department of Fisheries of Jammu and Kashmir can play a big role in this, using its extension officers.
Better quality of trout feed is another issue that can seriously change the dynamics of trout farming in Kashmir. There should be transparency of the composition of feed from government feed mills. Many Kashmiri trout farmers complain of less growth, a rearing period that spans over 12 months. More so, there are other problems such as spoilage of food during storage as well as wastage of food in the form of “dust”.
Trout, being a carnivorous fish, require a high protein percentage of 40-50% for different age groups, and a fat percentage generally above 12%. Pelletized floating feeds have shown promise in experiments conducted by DCFR in Uttrakhand. If these conditions are met, it can reduce the cultivation time period by 3-4 months. An optimum humidity of 10 percent in trout feed will reduce the risk of spoilage and increase the longevity of fish feed. Not only will such feed standardization increase fish growth rates, reduce the risk of fungal attack in the feed and therefore possible loss to the farmer, but it will also reduce his reliance on private companies to fish feed, who sell the feed to them. at a higher cost. Food storage depots could also be set up in remote areas in common meeting places that can supply food to farmers in adjoining districts on an ad hoc basis.
Other models such as foliar protein concentrates can be put into practice as they have been successfully tested in carp and trout diets. Separation of water pipes in two (one at the entrance and the second halfway through the channel) and small shaded areas can be provided in the trout channels, which will give the fish more freedom for the oxygen and daytime freedom, prevention of solar UV. Reduced stress in fish by such small adjustments can be a pioneer in controlling fish disease.
It is high time the government of Jammu and Kashmir realizes that the future of fisheries in Kashmir lies with its professional candidates who study a four-year degree program as a Bachelor of Fisheries Science (BFSc ) and a two- to three-year Master of Fisheries Science (MFSc) program. The inclusion of students with a background in zoology at the end of their degree/master’s degree in the fisheries department is really a question of justice.
- The author is studied MFSc from GBPUAT Uttrakhand
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