Bumthang cold water trout project a success

Kuenzang Choden / Thimphu

Photo Courtesy: http://www2.mdbc.gov.au

The second phase of fish stocking and monitoring program in Gomthang stream in Bumthang, undertaken by the Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP), in collaboration with the National Cold Water Fishery Centre (NCWFC) in Haa has concluded.

In a news release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), 500 brown trout yearlings have been stocked and are in good condition with a 100% survival rate. The report recommended the need to intensify stocking, regular monitoring of stocked fish, and sensitization of local people on the intention of the Gomthang trout fishery project.

The Chief Forest Officer of the WCP, D.S Rai, said that the park officials will keep monitoring the trout, and a similar study will be conducted next year.  “Once the fish are able to reproduce, then the situation will be better.  The present health condition indicates that the environment is healthy enough to raise a fishery,” he said.

The stocked fish were found to be in healthy condition with good body weight and size increases. The findings indicate that Gomthang stream makes a good habitat for trout fishery.

Better ways of transporting the fish, such as a closed system method was used to transport live fish. The first phase started with the objective to stock live brown trout fingerlings into the stream. Of the 1,150 fingerlings transported, 920 were successfully released into the stream with a survival rate of 80%.

The project is a part of a long-term vision to convert Gomthang into a tourist destination. The place has the potential for Tshamba- Gomthang trek, and with the fishery projects, tourism activities like fly fishing and capture-release can be offered as well, said D.S Rai.

The news release from MoAF states, the program will run for three years, and further stocking and periodic monitoring will be carried out. This is in line with the project, “Interim Co-Management of Wangchuck Centennial Park and World Wildlife Fund-Bhutan Program.”

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  1. It is indeed very heartening to  read that  Bhutan may open up for fly fishing. It is a sport which is simply catch and release and tourists will definitely seek this product and it is also in tune with your tourism  policy of high value tourism since fly fisherman are mostly wealthy tourists. I cannot wait to bring my friends and return to bum thang. I did visit Bhutan last year and found bum thang and paro rivers ideal for fly fishing. Fly fishing is like golf and the fly fisherman wll visit to play that sport. However, I urge y ou not to delay in this initiative since some of the neighboring countries are capitalizing on ths sport and you may loose out on bing among the first to attract this group.

  2. This must be joke; introducing non-native/exotic species in a park is a crime. Holy crap conservation NGO (WWF) and Wangchuck Centennial Park engaged in such shameful act. All the conservation fertility in Bhutan must condemn this. It simply reflects shear lack of knowledge of these agencies engaged in so-called conservation effort. The park manager/CFO of WCP should be fired for failing to uphold the law and not having any understanding of how harmful invasive species can become. This is the most stupid conservation initiative and I am surprised that WWF supports such initiatives. A mistake had been made long time back when brown trout were introduced, but we know the damage it has done to our native fishes. When the brown trout were introduced in Bhutan sometime in 1960s, the ill effect of such introduction was not known and that was common method to stock most rivers and lakes in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia. But the art of knowledge on ill effects such introductions are so profound that now everyone in the conservation world knows what damage it can bring in to local fishes.

    Alas, Bhutan has such CFO who does not know the difference of National Park and fish farming, and have NGO that would support such project. The more shameful is they have audacity to publicize such stupid act as if they have save highly endangered species. If you can, WCP and WWF, bring back snow tout to Bumthang, Chamkhar river and see how well you can do.

    • Very disheartening to reward the pain taken for sucessful stocking of brown trout in Gomthang stream for benefits of nature conservation. As concerned, brown trout is not so carnivous and had not caused depletion to other stocks till today. The brown trout exist almost all in Cold water rivers of Bhutan and there has not been any adverse affects. The affects of such fish is awared to us more than you share. Hope you understand better than best of such program.

  3. that trout is so beautiful! Makes me smile seeing healthy fish as it reflects a healthy biosystem as well. Unfortunately most bhutanese treat rivers like the closest drain or sewage line dumping every type of waste they produce into it.  I don’t know when we will learn these things need our support. 

    Fish is entitled to his opinion but I think it is a good model for tariff paying flying fishing tourists to help maintain the natural ecosystem. And brown trout has been in bhutan for 50+ years so I really don’t understand what his point is.

  4. TIngting, I appreciate your love for our rivers, but presence of fish along is not an indicator of healthy system. I know you do not come from conservation background, but your respect for ecosystem is commending and I applaud you for that. We need more people of your kind to save our rich natural heritage.

    I agree with you that brown trouts were introduced in 1950s (from 1958) in our lakes and river. That was a mistake, but then no one new what an invasive species can do to local fishes. The reason we don’t find any native fish (snow trout) in Thimphu river, Chamkhar river is due to that mistake. All fishes are not created equal, they have evolved and adapted, we human subsidize and introduce species like brown trout which negatively affects other fishes and other species. I am not making this up, this has been proven scientifically that this predatory fish wipe out other fishes long time back and here in Bhutan we are once again in the process of committing same mistake. I have nothing to gain/loose from this, but a national park and conservation NGO would take up such kind of project, I am simply surprised. They could have stock snow trout instead of brown trout and encourage fly fishing. To catch brown trout, they don’t need to come all the way to Bhutan. If Park is really into fly fishing, there are more then enough brown trouts in most of the rivers in Bumthang, they should be open not only to tourist, but even to Bhutanese. This way they will help conservation.

  5. Once thing for certain. In Bhutan any pilot project is rated a success as long as there is donor supporting it or enough fund. unfortunately most of the projects die out silently and doesn’t get noticed.

    Few years ago, MOA found and Kuensel printed that introduced new fishes in Thimchu river eating the local fish at a very young stage. Perhaps MOA has forgot that ..

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