Pangasius sutchi, better known as the Siamese shark or sutchi catfish that is popular seafood in South Asian countries, has been introduced in the Gobind Sagar and Pong reservoirs in Bilaspur district. The Himachal fisheries department has imported the species of iridescent shark catfish, which is native to the Mekong and other rivers of Southeast Asia, in cages.
The central government has launched a scheme called "cage fish culture for raising table size fish" for increasing fish production from open waters. To boost fish production in the state, the Himachal government has decided to introduce the scheme in the state's reservoirs.
The fisheries department has transferred funds to the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, near Kolkatta, for demonstrating the technology of cage fish culture in the Gobind Sagar and Pong reservoirs. It has installed four nylon cages in the reservoirs and fish seed of the new species has been introduced in these cages. "The department has added 1000 fingerlings in each cage," said additional fisheries chief secretary Tarun Shidhar.
"The species is already being cultured in cages in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh successfully. These cages have been installed at Makri in Gobind Sagar by roping in the Bhakra fish cooperative society and at Siyul-khad in the Pong reservoir by involving the Siyul khad fish cooperative society. During the first year the cost of cages and inputs like cost of seed and feed will be borne by the fisheries department and after one year these cages will be transferred to the cooperative society concerned free of cost to run this scheme on their own. The department will transfer this technology to reservoir fishermen for increasing their income and only a 5% royalty will be charged on the total sale proceeds of the catch in accordance with the reservoir policy," Shidhar said.
The cage fish culture will be extended to other fish cooperative societies of state reservoirs also where maximum water depth is maintained throughout the year, for installing these nylon cages having dimensions of 6x4x4 m. Successful implementation of cage fish culture scheme is likely to increase fishermen's income manifold.