Trout Fish Farming: The Way Forward 

By Haziq Qayoom Lone


ALTHOUGH five species of the trout fish were tried for cultural practices in Kashmir, most failed either at the stage of breeding e.g., Splake trout (which failed to breed after the stock maturation-- eventually the whole stock perished) or at the stage of embryo formation in the egg, e.g., Sebago salmon. The Eastern brook trout did find its feet in Kashmir in sparse numbers, thanks to the low hatching success. And hence the spread of its culture was always close to zenith. Brown trout, which require better water quality conditions with higher oxygen requirements and lower temperatures proved difficult for culture in the flow through systems across Kashmir.

The only species of trout that flourished left, right and center in Kashmir is the rainbow trout. Known for its relative ‘hardy' nature, the fish tolerate lower oxygen levels and temperatures up to 25°C for longer periods of time. The fish received its own identity in the cold water fisheries of the Indian subcontinent, especially in the countries like India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan. Kashmir remains second to none in the production in India.

Although sufficient, the trout production in Kashmir is far less than the realized production potential. The main reason being flunked market structure and thin market channel within and outside Kashmir. The government of India must try and facilitate the marketing of trout fish into mainland India by creating a channel that can function from every district of Kashmir to the well-off  neighboring UTs/states, such as Delhi, Chandigarh.  This extension can later be taken directly from the trout villages as the villages exist in close proximity to each other, usually in the uplands. This will surely encourage more farmers to take up the initiative and become trout growers.

A huge cluster of Indian population is unaware about the name rainbow trout, let alone the benefits of eating it. The majority of the restaurants in Kashmir do not serve trout, let alone other states of India. Restaurant owners as well as the growers must be encouraged to serve trout on the table. They could be encouraged to pin-up the posters and pamphlets stating the factual information about trout meat and its benefits. In fact, the Department of Fisheries, Jammu and Kashmir can play a big role in it, by using their extension agents.

Better quality of trout feed is yet another issue that can seriously change the dynamics of trout farming in Kashmir. There should be transparency of the feed composition from the government feed mills. Many trout farmers of Kashmir complain about less growth, a culture period that extends more than 12 months. More so, there are other problems like feed spoilage during storage as well as feed wastage in the form of ‘dust'.

Trout, being a carnivore fish, requires a high protein percentage of 40-50 percent for different age groups, and a fat percentage generally higher than 12 percent. The pelleted floating feeds have shown promise in the experiments run by the DCFR at Uttrakhand. If these conditions are met, this can reduce the culture time period by 3-4 months. An optimum of 10 percent moisture in trout feeds will reduce the chances of spoilage and increase the longevity of the fish feed. Not only will such a standardization of feeds increase the growth rates of fish, reduce the chances of fungal attack in feeds and hence eventual loss to the farmer, but it will also reduce his dependence on private fish feed companies, that sell the feeds to them at a higher costs. The storage feed depots could also set up in far-flung areas at common meeting places that can provide feeds to the farmers from time to time, of the adjoining districts.

Other models like leaf protein concentrates can be brought up in practice as they have been successfully tested both in carp and trout diets. Water pipe partitioning into two (one at the in let, and second at the midway of the raceway) and small shady areas can be made in the trout raceways, that will let fish have more freedom for oxygen, and diurnal freedom, prevention from the solar UV. The stress lowered in fish by such little adjustments can be a pathbreaking in controlling the disease of the fish.

Its high time that the government of Jammu and Kashmir realises that Kashmir fisheries' future lies in its professional candidates that study a four-year degree program as Bachelors of Fisheries Science (BFSc) and a two-three year degree program Masters in Fisheries Science(MFSc). The inclusion of students with Zoology background in graduation/ masters into the fisheries department, really begs a question of justice.

  • The author is studied M.F.Sc from the G.B.P.U.A.T Uttrakhand

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