Aquaculture: As part of its regular programme of breeding and rearing fish fingerlings for fish farmers in the country, the National Centre for Aquaculture in Gelephu is currently incubating fish brought from Hungary.

The centre, which is under the livestock department, brought 500,000 fertilised eggs of the common carp, Tata Scaly carp from the Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (HAKI), Szarvas in Hungary.

According to the livestock production officer, Gopal Prasad Khanal, the fertilised eggs have been successfully incubated and hatched.

The hatchlings will be reared with appropriate quarantine and management practices until sexually mature. The fish attains sexual maturity at 12-24 months.

Then the matured fish will be used as brooders (mother fish) to produce fingerlings, which will be distributed to fish farmers across the country.

Gopal Prasad explained that this is not the first time that the Tata Scaly carp is being reared in the country. It was first introduced to Bhutan in the 1980s. It is being reintroduced so that the old stock is replaced with fresh ones to produce quality brooders. “This will ensure production of quality fingerlings,” he said. “So that the genetic origin is not lost or degraded, we had to bring fresh eggs from the native country itself.”

The centre currently functions as a nodal agency for development of aquaculture in Bhutan and is engaged in production and distribution of six species of cultivable fish to farmers across the fish farming dzongkhags. The six species includes the catla, rohu, mrigal, silver carp, grass carp and common carp.

The livestock production officer added that the Tata Scaly carp is preferred because it is easy to breed compared to other strains of common carp. “Preference of common carp is very high among Bhutanese fish farmers considering its high tolerance, faster growth rate, easiness to rear and ready acceptance of farm feed made from locally available cereals,” he said.

Besides reintroduction of the common carp stock, the centre is also in the process of reintroducing the gene bank of catla, rohu and mrigal, which are collectively known as Indian major carps. A few hundred each of catla, rohu and mrigal were also introduced into the breeding centre.

“Quality fingerlings are essential to ensure optimum production of fish as the performance of the progenies greatly depends upon the quality of brooders,” he added.

The centre also plans to implement scientific breeding techniques once the fish attains sexual maturity so that it is easy to identify the source, year and class of the brooders.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang