Cage culture in Umiam reservoir, Meghalaya under TSP, Collaborative effort of ICAR-CIFRI, Barrackpore and ICAR-RCNEHR,Umiam.
The Umiam reservoir located in Ri-Bhoi District of Meghalaya (25°39'30'' N and 91°43'51''E) at an altitude of 900 m above mean sea level is a small reservoir (largest among the three reservoirs of the district) with water-spread area 500 ha at FSL). It was formed by damming River Umiam as stage I of the Umtru-Umiam Hydro-electric project (for hydro-electric power generation) and was commissioned in 1965. There is no organized fishery in this reservoir and it has remained an open-access capture fishery. Subsistence fishing and limited commercial fishing (using gill nets) by some local people (belonging to Khasi tribe) in an unorganized manner is being carried out in the reservoir. The common carp (Cyrprinus carpio) has established in the reservoir and dominates fish catches from the reservoir with indigenous chocolate mahseer (Neolissocheilus hexagonolepis) occurring in low numbers. Dr. J. K. Jena, Deputy Director General (Fy. Sc.), ICAR, New Delhi mooted the idea of initiating cage culture in the reservoir as an option for providing livelihood support to the tribal fishers while gracing a programme organized by the Fisheries division of ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam at Umniuh khwan village on the banks of Umiam reservoir on 23 August 2018 as the Chief Guest. Dr. B. K. Das, Director, ICAR-CIFRI, Barrackpore took the initiative to conduct cage culture in the reservoir for the first time under the TSP programme of ICAR-CIFRI in collaboration with the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam and 50 local fishers belonging to Ri-Bhoi Farmers’ Union (under the leadership of Mr. D. Mazzao, President of the Union and Mr. Brightstar K., Secretary).
A battery of six CIFRI-GI Cage® with an area of 100 m3 per cage (6x4x4 m3 per cage) was installed in the reservoir with total cage water volume of 540m3 (90m3/ cage). A stakeholder consultation-cum-training programme on ‘Cage culture in Umiam reservoir, Meghalaya’ was jointly organized by ICAR-CIFRI and ICAR RC for NEH Region at Umniuh Khwan village on 24.09.19. Fingerlings of minor carp, kuhri/ Labeo gonius (average length 12.01 cm and average weight 18.31g), Amur common carp (11.09 cm, 20.4g) and Koi carp (10.88cm, 19.8g) were stocked in the cages on September 24, 2019 through a fish seed stocking programme. Fish fingerlings were provided by the Fisheries Division of ICAR RC for NEH Region. Fishes were fed twice daily with CIFRI-CAGEGROW® floating feed @3-5% of their body weight. Growth and water quality were monitored regularly by ICAR-CIFRI Regional Centre, Guwahati and ICAR-RC-NEHR, Umiam whereas daily feeding was done by the local cage farmers.
After five month of rearing, the maximum individual weight of L. gonius, Amur carp and Koi carp were recorded as 217 g, 660 g and 665 g, respectively (average weight 93.1 g, 339.5 g and 258.4 g). Highest survival was observed in Amur carp (80%) followed by Koi carp and L. gonius and no disease incidence was observed. Amur carp was found to be the most suitable candidate for cage culture in the reservoir in terms of survival and growth. The final harvests of the cages directly benefited the participating cage farmers (50 No.). Encouraged by the success of the maiden cage culture trial, the participating cage farmers deposited a part of the income from cage culture in the bank account of the society (Umniuh Khwan welfare fund) at State Bank of India, ICAR Complex branch, Umiam for continuing the cage culture activity.