Kashmir valley has approximately 28 water resources — wetlands and lakes— followed by Ladakh which has 21 and the district of Jammu, which has about 10 water resources. Other than these, there are numerous rivers such as Jhelum, Ravi, Tawi, Chenab, Lidder, Sind, Zanaskar, Nubra, etc. flowing through the region and providing opportunities for freshwater fishing. Due to the presence of warm water resources in the Jammu region, there is high diversity in species which is not the case in Ladakh because of its harsh climate, low temperatures and high altitude.
J&K is first in trout production in the whole of India, with future potential to increase trout production to 5,000 metric tonnes in the next three to four years. J&K have recorded nearly 600 tonnes of trout production in the last financial year. The region has setup 533 trout farms in the private sector. Additionally, there are also 59 trout rearing units and hatcheries in the region. As of 2020, 120 species of fishes from various aquatic habitats in J&K were reported. Out of these, 105 are present in Jammu region itself, 23 in Kashmir valley with another eight species that are common in both regions. The UT crossed the figure of 20,000 tonnes of fish production as a result of modern fishing practices. Out of this, 262 tonnes of trout fish was produced, which was sold for over Rs 200 lakhs and the remaining were comprised other fish production. Over 400 lac fish seeds were produced, including 90 lacs eyed ova seed of trout itself. Out of the total production, more than 80 per cent of the fish produce is contributed by the Kashmir region. Jammu on the other hand, is emerging as the major producer of animal protein through the fisheries sector. The government has set up fish reservoirs in Sala and Ranjit districts.
Among the 10 districts in the Kashmir valley, Baramulla leads in fish production, followed by Bandipora which has the second largest freshwater lake in Asia. From Jammu province, Jammu leads in fish production followed by Kathua and Udhampur districts which contribute equally.
There are close to 93,000 fishermen in J&K, most of them belonging to the rural area. About 54 fish villages are near Wular lake, followed by 15 near Dal Lake and five near Manasbal Lake. The fishing season in the UT is between June - September and the most common fishes caught are common carp, Amur carp, trout, etc.
The government has also expressed intent to boost the fishery sector in the UT through undertaking massive fisheries and aquaculture programmes.
Considering the above facts, it can be confidently established that the sector holds a lot of growth opportunities for investors and people of J&K. Furthermore, below are a few suggestions for promotion and development of fisheries sector in Jammu and Kashmir
Fisheries should form a major part of tourism promotion in the UT. The sector can be further promoted by developing underwater aquariums similar to foreign countries, organising food festivals, sports or adventure festivals or activities revolving around the sector.
Extending infrastructure support to poor farmers to assist them in securing their catch, avoiding wastage and also availing best prices in the market.
Development of cold storage facilities and processing and packaging units for export purposes.
Encouragement and incentives for private players to set up factories. Also exploring interstate sale of fish opportunities.
-— Source: Department of Industries and Commerce, Jammu and Kashmir