Bhutan has fairly good possibilities for the development of both warm and cold water fisheries. Development has so far been limited to a few streams and natural lakes which have been stocked with brown trout.
There are about 7 200 km of rivers and 590 natural lakes covering nearly 4 250 ha but their fishery potentiality has not yet been exploited.
About 1 000 km of river length could be developed into highly productive trout streams of value both to the local population and to the tourist trade.
The carp culture experiments conducted by the adviser at Thimbu indicate that a minimum of 500 kg/ha/year can be obtained at high altitude locations like Thimbu and Paro. The fish production at places like Wandi Phodrang could be higher.
The preliminary experiments conducted on carp culture at low altitudes in the foothills at Sarbhang indicate that it should not be difficult to obtain a minimum production of 1 000 kg/ha/year in small impoundments. This production can be increased with better inputs. This would ultimately increase many times the income of the farmer. About 50 ha of suitable sites for pond construction have been identified in Sarbhang, Chirang, Chengang, Tashigang and Samdrupjongkhar.
About 2 500 km of rivers flowing through the warm water zone can provide a better livelihood for some 400 families living along the rivers. Better marketing could be organized but communication difficulties pose a serious problem to the development and management of riverine fisheries in the country.
Fish seed is the key to fish culture and fisheries development. Sufficient brood stock has been kept for production of adequate quantities of fish seed of major carp, common carp and trout in the demonstration and production farms.
About 65 t of fresh and 435 t of dried fish, worth nearly N3 million annually, are sold in the markets along with general merchandise, except in Thimbu, under unhygienic conditions. Both fresh and dried fish are very often found unfit for human consumption.
The actual level of pollution in the rivers of Bhutan is low, but the industrial development of the country can endanger this situation unless adequate measures, nonexistent at present, are taken. The riverine fisheries, because of their relative importance in the country, should be protected from industrial pollution by rapid action.