First fish hospital opens in J &K with aim to cut farm losses

Fisheries’ professionals from the Sher-E-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences (SKUAST), Srinagar came across a common complaint from farmers during a review of fish farms in Jammu and Kashmir. The farmers were complaining that species like trout were dying of strange reasons. Experts were soon able to find that pathogens like Trypanosoma had made their way into Kashmir’s severe cold water. The blood parasite is mostly found among fish in tropical regions. 

The declining number of fish thus prompted SKUAST to open the Aquatic Animal Health Management Division (AAHMD) at Rangel in Central Kashmir's Ganderbal district in five months back. It is the second such fish hospital in the country launched on the lines of a similar facility established in Kolkata in 2015. AAHMD head and a fish disease researcher, Feroz Shah said "From the last four years, we have conducted the survey in 3 divisions of the state and have screened many of farms. Many farmers have been complaining that their fish particularly trout, are dying due to unknown reasons".

He further added that “Nature has provided us with plentiful waters and fish. Still every year our farmers lose 30% fish due to diseases and if we can control that, we could enhance the overall production by one-third". 

It must be noted that the state has around 513 trout farmers, who produces over 20,000 tonnes of fish yearly. Shah told they have found the parasite in the blood of fishes in Dal Lake also adding that "There is fear that due to global warming some deadly pathogens will attack our waters. If that happens, our fish cannot sustain those pathogens”. 

To cope with this and other related problems, AAHMD has set up 20 glass tanks and aquariums that offer different treatments to sick. Some tanks are used for antibiotic, anti-parasite and anti viral medications. There are quarantine tanks too to adjust the fish admitted to the hospital. The experimental fish farm is also linked with the hospital beside a cell culture facility, an aqua clinic and a pathology lab.      

To sum up, there are around 122 types of fishes found in streams, lakes and rivers of the state. Pollution and introduction of exotic species is one big reason for the vanishing of some of the Valley's indigenous fish including Snow trout. 

A 45-year-old fish farmer from Bandipora region Nasir Ahmad said the hospital was helping them cut the losses. He approached the hospital in August after his trout fish had bacterial infection." The hospital provided me medicine and I saved some 500 of my Frys,"Ahmad told.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

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