Capture Fishery in Relation to Nile Tilapia Management in the Mountainous Lakes of Pokhara Valley, Nepal
Md. Akbal Husen, Subodh Sharma, Jay Dev Bista, Surendra Prasad, and Agni Nepal
Abstract. —Nepal is rich in water resources and fishing is a longstanding tradition. Capture fisheries are an important sector in Nepal and contribute approximately 0.5% to the national gross domestic product. The fish catch data of the Phewa, Begnas, and Rupa lakes of the Pokhara Valley from 2006 and 2011 were analyzed to determine the harvest trends of the exotic Nile Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus and native fish. The harvest of Nile Tilapia increased and the harvest of native fish species decreased in the lakes of Pokhara Valley. Harvest from the capture fisheries has increased in these lakes since Nile Tilapia became established. The introduction of Nile Tilapia in these lakes was accidental. Due to an increase in Nile Tilapia catches, the income of the Jalari community has increased, enhancing its livelihood. The native fishes of the Pokhara Valley lakes, however, are highly valued and provide a direct livelihood for the Jalari community living around the lakes. Population growth, urbanization, tourism, agricultural intensification, illegal fishing, and the introduction of exotic fish species are the drivers that affect the capture fisheries in Phewa, Begnas, and Rupa lakes. Regular monitoring and stock enhancement programs for native fish species and selective harvesting of Nile Tilapia will mitigate the problem of overpopulation of Nile Tilapia. To control further expansion of Nile Tilapia into other natural lakes, reservoirs, and rivers of Nepal, native fish conservation policy, laws, and protocols should be rigorously enforced. This paper discusses the drivers of fisheries, the increasing trend of Nile Tilapia in total fish catch, and its possible effect on native fish species and the livelihood of dependent communities of the lakes of the Pokhara Valley.