Conservation of Native Fish Species through Promotion of Fish Farming…

Illegal capture of fish from Punatshangchhu and its tributaries is prevalent practice and such activity is likely to have negative impact on the native fishes of Bhutan which has been already being subjected to various threats from anthropogenic activities such as hydropower development, road construction, sand mining etc. Thus, to discourage harvest of wild fish stocks in the river basins of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang, National Centre for Aquaculture is supporting the establishment of fish farms by farmers in these Dzongkhags. The NCA being the primary agency responsible for development of fish farming in Bhutan, upon instruction and support from DoL established three carp farms at Punakha in 2015. All the farms have been stocked with fishes and are currently operational. To initiate similar activity in Wangdue Phordang, 11 farmers were sensitized on the concept of the activity and also various supports available from NCA/DoL. They were also briefly educated on various aspects of fish farming.

The NCA will execute the follow up activities pertaining to initiation of fish farming at Wangdue and further promotion of fish farming inFishes Punakha during fiscal year 2016-2017. The concept of the activity is primarily aimed to conserve the native fish species through initiation of carp farming so that the locally produced farmed fish can substitute and reduce harvest of wild fish. Such initiatives will also provide means of employment for riverside communities. Considering the approach of the activity which will directly contribute towards conservation of native fish species, NCAR, Gelegphu under the guidance and support of DoL is exploring possibilities to secure funds from various donor agencies. To this a project proposal to adopt and replicate the similar concept along other major Riverine system has already been developed and submitted to Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC).

 Submitted by:

Gopal Prasad Khanal

Livestock Production Officer


Reinforcement of Cultivable Carp Gene Bank at NCAR, Gelephu

The National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA), Gelegphu under guidance and support of Department of Livestock (DoL) during the recent years has been engaged in several developments and initiatives to further enhance the efficient service delivery in field of carp fishery. One among such activity is an attempt to further reinforce the gene bank of carp brooders within its farm premises. These brooders are be used for propagation and production of fingerlings. The fingerlings will then be distributed to various fish farming dzongkhags. Quality of carp brooder within gene bank is very much essential as the quality of the progenies are greatly associated with the genotypic and phenotypic characters of the brooders used for the propagation. Thus, in order to develop well-organized gene bank of the cultivable carp the following activities has already been executed:

  1. The centre has procured 500,000 nos. of fertilized ova of Tata scaly carp a strain of common carp from Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (HAKI), Szarvas, Hungary under the National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre (NARIC). The strain has been preferred as it is easy for propagation when compared to other strains of common carp developed by HAKI. The common carp fryfertilized ova have successfully been incubated and hatched into hatchlings and they have currently attained the size of fry. The fries will be further reared until they attain sexual maturity and become ready for first propagation. The activity has been supported with funding from EU-RNR-SSP and RGoB budgets
  2. Similarly, to reinforce the gene bank of catla, rohu and mrigal which are collectively known as Indian major carp, new batch of fishes of various size groups has been already introduced into the system. As part of the program 96 nos. of catla, 117 nos. of rohu and 164 nos. of mrigal has been imported from fish farm at Bijini, Assam, India. The activity has been supported through GoI funding under livestock support program.Mrigal

The above species were identified for reinforcement of gene bank as the preference of common carp is very high among the Bhutanese farmers considering its high adaptability and tolerance to varied environmental conditions and faster growth rate. Similarly, in the recent years the preference of stunted fingerlings of Indian major carp is becoming popular among the farmers considering its faster growth, high survival rate and very minimum rearing loss.

The imported fishes namely catla, rohu, mrigal and common carp are currently maintained within quarantine facility of NCA and will be further reared until they attains the age of  first sexual maturity which is likely to take 18-24 months depending upon the age of individuals at the time of procurement. In order to further maintain proper history of the brooders and to assess the quality of the progeny from the parents, the centre plans to tag the fish with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags once the fish attains sexual maturity so to easily identify the source and year class of the brooders. Such program in long run is aimed at establishing an efficient fish breeding program at NCA, Gelegphu. The centre will also explore opportunities to reinforce grass carp gene bank in coming years.

Submitted by:

(Gopal Prasad Khanal)

Livestock Production Officer


In most humbly felicitating the celebration of the 60th Birth Anniverysary of HIS MAJESTY THE FOURTH DRUK GYALPO, Department of Livestock (DoL) under Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) inaugurated a Conservation Centre for the endangered Golden Mahaseer and Other Native Fishes (CCGM) at National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA) in Gelephu on 6th October. The inaugural event was presided over by His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, the honorable Minister for Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. The conservation centre was constructed with fund support from Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project and the DoL’s Government of India. It is a two storeyed structure, with the ground floor being a fish hatchery and the first floor an aquariuam wherein 24 live native fish species are maintained in glass aquaria. The principal species in the aquarium is the endangered Golden Mahaseer. Other native species include the Chocolate mahaseer, eel, catfish, minnows, and native freshwater shrimp. While the hatchery is off-limits for outsiders, the aquarium will soon be opened for educational and leisure visits by the general public.

The main purposes of the conservation centre are as follows:

a)      Hatchery to breed the endangerd Golden Mahaseer and other native fishes for conservation restocking;

b)      Workplace for further research on Golden Mahaseer and other native fishes; and

c)      House of information on Golden Mahaseer and other native fishes.

DSC04815CCGMaquaria3   Aquaria


Bhutan’s attempt to culture the giant freshwater prawn begins…

Bhutan has formally commenced a trial to culture the giant freshwater prawn/ shrimp. On 21/04/2015, the NCA stocked three research ponds on its farm in Gelephu with 30,000 prawn juveniles. The prawn will be reared for about six months at the end of which the costs and benefits of its culture will be evaluated. The final outcome of the trial will be a valuation of the prawn’s potential to become a livelihood enhancement option for Bhutanese farmers and entrepreneurs.

A more detailed story of the trial can be read at


Featured image courtesy of google.


Mega Fish Farm Toward Reducing Import of Fish…

Come November, 2014, and National Centre for Aquaculture (NCA), with support from Regional Centre for Aquaculture (RCA), will commence the implementation of a multi-million Ngultrum project to establish a 60 acre-Mega Fish Farm in Samrang under Samdrupjongkhar. At the time of composing this news, Detailed Project Report (DPR) and mobilization of the estimated required fund had been complete. The establishment of the farm is expected to be complete by October, 2015, and fish production activities would begin by January, 2016; the farm is expected to produce its first harvest of 175 Metric Tonnes of fish by January, 2017.

After establishing it, the mega farm will be owned and operated by the government for the foreseeable future.

The main objective of establishing the farm is to produce fish toward reducing its import which as of 2012 was more than 2000 MT per year (wet and dry fish combined).

Featured image courtesy of google.