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Uttarakhand to help Ladakh’s large-scale fisheries development

LEH, Aug 28: A team of scientists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Directorate of Coldwater Fisheries Research (DCFR), Bhimtal, Uttarakhand are these days in Ladakh to formulate a road map for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the Union Territory of Ladakh, under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).

According to Reach Ladakh, the scientific team is led by Dr. Pramod Kumar Pandey, Director (ICAR-DCFR) comprised of Dr. R.S. Patiyal (Principal Scientist), Dr. Biju Sam Kamalam, and Parvaiz Ahmad Ganie (Scientists).

Ladakh is known to be endowed with globally distinct coldwater resources and aquatic biodiversity which are adapted to the harsh high altitude cold arid climatic conditions prevailing in the region. Though the contribution of fisheries to food security and livelihood of the local populace is not significant at present, this sector has enormous scope to provide sustainable and remunerative employment opportunities and nutritional security in the region soon, Reach Ladakh said.

In connection with the fisheries development planning, Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh, Radha Krishna Mathur recently emphasized on capacity building, sustainable development of aquaculture, conservation of endemic aquatic biodiversity, ornamental fisheries, and strong cooperation between all the stakeholders.

Meanwhile, a stakeholders’ meeting for the convergence of research and development organisations and a fish farmers and entrepreneurs meet on sustainable fish culture in Ladakh was separately organised by the Department of Animal, Sheep, and Fisheries, Ladakh. The meeting was chaired by Sagar Mehra, Joint Secretary.

Representatives from ICAR-DCFR, Bhimtal; DRDO-DIHAR, Leh; Department of Animal, Sheep, and Fisheries, Ladakh; and ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute regional research station, Leh presented their views on the challenges, opportunities, and requirements to augment fish production in Ladakh through aquaculture initiatives and conservation/enhancement of the endemic fish biodiversity.

During the farmer’s meet at Chuchot farm in Leh, Sagar Mehra, Dr. Pramod Kumar Pandey and the team of scientists responded to the concerns raised by the farmers and fisheries department officials. They assured to take necessary action to address challenges related to capacity building and input (seed and feed) availability, with the cooperation of the Department of Fisheries, Ladakh.

To address each of the identified areas for fisheries development, the scientific team of ICAR-DCFR visited Pangong Lake on 21 August along with Zubair Ahmad from Ladakh Organic Farmers Foundation and documented baseline information of all the major water quality indices.

Contrary to previous reports regarding the absence of fish species in Pangong lake, the team collected fish (Triplophysa spp.) and aquatic invertebrate specimens which survive in the extreme environmental conditions of this high-altitude brackish water lake.

The ICAR-DCFR scientific team plans to visit the government and private fish farms located in Leh, Nubra valley, Kargil, and Drass and collect information from the fisheries department officials and farmers about the farming practices and challenges which they are facing. Besides this, as part of their feasibility study, the team will also gather baseline information on the water quality conditions in the fish farms as well as the major riverine ecosystems (Indus, Zanskar, Shyok, and Suru) in Ladakh.

Through this exploratory visit, ICAR-Directorate of Coldwater Fisheries Research will prepare a realistic road map for fisheries development in Ladakh with practical solutions and location-specific strategies, which would enable the Department of Fisheries, Government of India, and Department of Animal, Sheep, and Fisheries, Ladakh to effectively boost fish production and conservation in this high altitude cold arid region, under the flagship PMMSY programme.

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