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Impact of fishing on the riverine fish diversity of Sikkim

N. Haque, Saroj Toppo and H. Rahman
ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Sikkim Centre,
Tadong, Gangtok - 737102, Sikkim, India


A survey was conducted on the fisher communities in all the four districts of Sikkim to evaluate the existing fishing activities and its impact on the fish germplasm. The fishing-gears predominantly used in the rivers were rod and line, cast net, loop and line and hook and line. The frequency of predominantly available fish was as follows in descending order: Schizothorax spp > Neolissocheilus spp >
Garra spp > Pseudecheneis spp > Barilius spp > Semiplotus spp though 48 riverine fish species have been reported from the state. During the month of May Schizothorax spp and Neolissocheilus spp comprised 78.82 percent of the catch. There was strong awareness about fish-diversity where 82.94 percent acknowledged decline of different kind of fish in the rivers. The respondents expected that the government gave topmost priority to patrolling of the water bodies, organizing awareness programmes and trainings, issuance of license for controlled fishing and enact some regulations for judicious use of water in hydroelectricity projects for conservation of riverine diversity. It was concluded that the riverine fish diversity of Sikkim showed decreasing trend. It could be improved with the fishers’ participation in the implementation of different Government / agency sponsored programmes for conservation and maintenance of diversity of fish germplasm.

Keywords: Conservation, diversity, fish, fisher, river, Sikkim


Sikkim is blessed with plenty of water resources in the form of rivers, streams and lakes. The estimated length of rivers of the state is 900 km and area of ponds and lakes are 0.1 and 3.2 thousand ha, respectively. Two main rivers namely, Teesta and Rangeet and their tributaries drain the state. Majority of the lakes of the state are located in the alpine zone which remain frozen during winter. In general the fishing activities in the lakes of Sikkim are very limited with prohibition in the lakes which are considered sacred. Studies on fish and fisheries in Sikkim were carried out by Talwar and Jhingran (1991) but details about fish catch and its commercial aspect was not available. Hooker (1854) reported about Cyprinoids – big fishes that were abundantly found in crystal clear water of river Rangeet. However, Das and Mukherjee (2005) observed a strong decline in the diversity of fish fauna in the river Teesta. As a precautionary measure towards conservation of fish, the Directorate of Fisheries, Government of Sikkim has enforced the State Fishery Act, 1980. State Government has also initiated fisheries development programme to increase fish production, generating supplementary income to fisher, promoting angling for tourism and conservation of riverine fish germplasm. However, very little data is available regarding activities by the fisher communities and their impact on fish germplasm in the state. The objective of the study was to evaluate the existing fishing activities and its impact on fish germplasm.

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