Today, the natural populations of Tor putitora, the famed game fish which is commonly called as Golden Mahaseer, are under great threat from overfishing, and loss of habitat and breeding grounds due to anthropogenic activities such as the construction of hydroelectric dams. With several such dams already being constructed in the Himalayan region, it is feared that the populations of Tor putitora may decline even up to 80 %. Therefore, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources assesses Tor putitora as an Endangered species and points out that there is an urgent need for conservation efforts to save it from becoming extinct in several locations (International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN], 2013).

In Bhutan, Golden Mahaseer is found in Punatshang-chhu in Punakha-Wangduephodrang-Dagana region, Mangde-chhu in Trongsa-Zhemgang region, and Sarpang-chhu, Mou-chhu, Bhur-chhu, Phibsoo-chhu, Taklai-chhu and Kanimakara-chhu in Sarpang region. National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA) has been collecting fingerlings of this fish from the wild and rearing them in earthen ponds at the centre toward developing a set of viable brood-stock since the year 1995. Today, the centre is the proud custodian of about 300 mature Golden Mahaseer which are being nurtured gently to breed. In early February of 2013, the centre met with some success when it managed to strip a few hundred eggs from a mature female and incubated them successfully. The technology to thus artificially breed this wonderful fish still needs researching and standardizing. Efforts to this effect are being made. The NCA has also started work on establishing a GOLDEN MAHASEER CONSERVATION CENTRE on its premises.

The Department of Livestock (NCA’s parent department) aspires to someday be able to produce fingerlings of Golden Mahaseer for reinforcing the natural populations through restocking programs. If this vision is realized, this majestic fish, arguably the hallmark of our aquatic heritage, will prevail in our waters for all times to come, against all odds and challenges that economic development will bring with it.

The NCA welcomes any voluntary support to its efforts to save this iconic fish from disappearing from our country’s waters. For more information, kindly call +975-6-251190.


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  1. Ashok Vashisht says:

    Really nice to see the work on protection & breeding of Mahseer. I live in North India and have seen the population, size & range of Mahseer shrink alarmingly due to poor management. The factors affecting them are poaching, overfishing, mining of rivebeds, dams on streams/rivers. Although, its that big reservoirs like the Bhakra Dam have good Mahseer populations. That the government does not have a plan for their long term survival and restocking with proper management is making the problem worse. Hope to see better days for Mahseer.

  2. Chris says:

    Stumbled upon this website shortly after a trip to Myanmar. I was surprised to learn that very few Golden Mahseer are remaining in Myanamar. It seems both Bhutan and Myanmar have begun to progress, and the Golden Mahseer has become a victim of that much needed progress. River poison fishing techniques have also done a great deal of damage to populations in Myanmar.

    There is a strong recreational angling tourism sector in Thailand, specifically focusing on Golden Mahseer. I’m not sure to what extent recreational angling occurs in Bhutan, but I feel that it may offer additional funds or at least act as a lobbying mechanism to support the further restoration and future conservation of this beautiful fish.

    Keep up the good work,

    Chris Baird

    • NCA Webmaster says:

      Dear Chris,
      Thank you for the encouragement.
      At the moment we are in the process of strengthening our efforts to contribute to conserving this “beautiful” fish ( as you so nicely put it). And in our efforts, we are being assisted in a major way by one of the mega- hydropower projects (Mangde-chhu Hydropower Project). And it is such a pleasant coincidence that you mention Golden Mahaseer-centric recreational angling in Thailand; Right at this very moment, we have a group of three extremely knowledgeable fisheries professionals from Thailand at our centre, and they are helping us improve our techniques, including the technique to artificially breed the Golden Mahaseer, in several ways.
      Please keep visiting our site. We will keep posting updates regularly.

      Have a good time.

      NCA Management.

      • muhammad safuan says:

        hi..can i know you center now already success to breeding golden mahseer?

        • NCA Gelephu says:

          Dear Sir/ Madam,
          Yes, we have found success in our endeavor to develop a Golden Mahaseer breeding technology. We first successfully bred the Golden Mahaseer in February, 2013. Now, we breed the fish twice a year, in February-April and October-December.
          NCA Management.

        • NCA Gelephu says:

          Dear muhammad safuan,

          Yes, this is government institute and has been registered as National Research Center for Aquaculture (NRCA) under the Ministry of Agriculture and forestry, Department of livestock, Thimphu. Our institute is based at Gelephu under Sarpang District.

          Thank you for your query.

          Sonam Choijay
          NRCA, Gelephu

    • Tshewang Tashi says:

      hello Chris,

      You are right , Mahaseer has huge potential for recreational tourism. Therefore Bhutan is very keen on conservation of this great fish species.
      Very soon Mahaseer in Bhutan will bring in good news for conservation enthusiast and to the world.
      Bhutan is trying to study this fish in detail for conservation and utilization in harmony.

      Department of Livestock

      • MB Lama says:

        I have been trying to promote Mahseer fly fishing / spin fishing in Bhutan since long time ago but due to lack of information from forestry department I am not been able to promote it. Ofcourse, I myself a expert angler too & love doing angling. It should be made legalize Mahseer fishing throughout the Bhutan(Catch & Release)so that maybe we, the tour operator will push further. Although, it’s gonna generate some revenue to government as well as it will benefits our local community too.

        Regards – MB Lama
        Himalayan Voyages

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