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Production and culture of trout in the Northwest Frontier Province and Northern Areas of Pakistan. A review. (by M. Yaqoob)

Aquaculture Fisheries Research Institute, National Agriculture Research Centre,
Park Road, Islamabad, Pakistan


The paper gives the history of the introductions of brown trout and culture of rainbow trout in North West Frontier Province and Northern Areas of Pakistan. There are 738 km of rivers with trout, 8 state run hatcheries, 18 private hatcheries and 28 private trout farms, the estimated production of which is 162 120 tons per year.


Pakistan is a country of a great variety of landscapes and environmental conditions. This variety of habitats is especially remarkable in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In addition, there is a critical constrast between winter and summer seasons. The rivers and streams are deep or shallow, clear or muddy, cold or warm, fast or slow and may have stony, sandy or muddy bottom and rich or scanty vegetation along the banks. Suitable species were designed by nature itself for this region (Butt, 1994).

The trout fishery of Pakistan prevails particularly in the NWFP and Northern Areas, where two species of trout, though exotic in origin, have established themselves in rivers of this province. They are brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

2. BROWN TROUT (Salmo trutta)

The species was introduced in Gilgit from Europe by political officers in 1916. It has large scales, thickly spotted dark and red spots on the sides. The body is short but stout, suitable altitude for its culture is about 1 000 m above sea level. The fish becomes adult after two years and breeds in natural waters. In hatcheries it can be made to spawn by stripping which is quite successful. Its fecundity is about 1 500 eggs. Due to low temperature, its incubation period extends from 40 to 70 days. In Saif-ul-Maluk Lake (Kaghan Valley) the fish has reached 7 kg. Trout is a tasty fish, sometimes considered a delicacy. It is also a game fish caught with zeal by anglers. It usually reaches a total length of about 45 cm. Being carnivorous, the fish feeds upon a variety of aquatic animals including small fish (Ahmad and Niazi, 1988).

The major districts in federally administered Northern Areas are Gilgit and Skardu. The major fishery of this area is brown trout. It was introduced there in 1908. Now it is established, mainly supporting sport fishing (Lone, 1983). According to Hussain (1965), trout in Gilgit was first introduced in 1916 and has been established there since then. In 1963 more eyed ova were introduced from the Shinu hatchery, Kagan Valley, hatched and also established a fish stock.

Trout culture began in NWFP in 1928, when brown trout was first brought from Kashmir and kept in a nursery tank in the Shinu hatchery. In 1930 it was introduced in Swat and Chitral by H.R. Hay, Political Agent, Malakand, and by Captain B. Woods Ballard, Assistant Political Agent, Chitral, respectively, but did not succeed as the total stock died. Later some efforts were made again in both areas but could not achieve the objectives. Thereafter the matter was dropped for seven years. In 1946 Maj. B. H. Cobb, Political Agent, Gilgit, initiated more introductions with about 120 adult brown trout stocked directly in the Lutkoh River, Chitral. They self-reproduced and established a good population. At present this valley is unique for trout angling. Introductions elsewhere, including Swat, were unsuccessful. Interest in trout was revived in 1960 when a fully fledged project was approved and implemented by the Fisheries Department of the NWFP. In 1961, a trout hatchery was constructed at Madyan, Swat, and trout were imported from Kaghan. The first breeding was conducted in January 1962 and the resultant fry were stocked in the upper reaches of the Swat River, which proved successful (Naveed, 1994).

There are brown trout hatcheries at Hosho, Kargah and Chilas in Gilgit and Skardu areas.

3. RAINBOW TROUT (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Rearing of this fish is easier than that of brown trout. It can tolerate a higher water temperature, is less carnivorous and grows faster. Its hatching time is 33 days (Hussain, 1994). It sometimes escapes from culture and enters open waters (Hussain, 1997). Rainbow trout was first introduced in NWFP during 1928 (ADB, 1984).

In view of the great potential for further increase of trout culture, a consignment of 20 000 eyed ova of rainbow trout were imported from Japan in 1973. Later on during 1984-85 and 1986, 500 000 eggs of the Kamloop strain of rainbow trout were imported from the USA under the Pakistan Aquaculture Development trout farming project in NWFP. Most of the resultant fry were kept in the raceways for growing to table size and some of these were restocked in various water bodies. This built a sustained population in the rivers, streams and lakes of the northern districts (Naveed, 1994). The resources and trout hatcheries/farms in NWFP and Northern Areas are presented in Tables 1-3.

Table 1

Extent of water bodies with trout in the NWFP (Naveed, 1994)

Length of rivers (km)

Number of lakes

Hazara (Kaghan Valley)



Swat (Upper Valley)



Dir (Dir Kohistan)



Chitral (Upper Valley)



Table 2

Trout hatcheries in the NWFP (Naveed, 1994)

Name of hatchery

Production capacity in million

*Shinu (Mansehra)


Madyan (Swat)


*Alpuri (Swat)


Dubair (Kohistan)


**Kalkot (Dir)


Jaghoor (Chitral)


Bombret (Chitral)


Alai (Batgram)




* Under reconstruction
** Needs renovation

Table 3

Private trout farms/hatcheries (Brief on Fisheries, NWFP)


Number of farms

Number of hatcheries

Estimated production (kg)




58 190




36 000




6 630




60 300




162 120

Small trout are fed liver, ground to very fine particles, and also chicken eggs made into a thin paste using the yolk. A trout feed is being used for trout culture at NWFP trout hatcheries. The feed formula is given in Table 4.


Trout fishing is not only a part of the integrated development strategy of northern districts of NWFP but is also an essential source of recreation in these areas. Trout fishery as a sport has contributed a lot to the economy of local communities in the northern districts through the tourist trade. Direct and indirect economic benefits are accrued from trout fishing by tourists in Kaghan, Swat and Chitral and the number of anglers is steadily increasing.. Consequently the local residents directly benefit and their income is increasing (Table 5).

Table 4

Typical formula for trout feed (Naveed, 1994)



Fish meal


Wheat flour


Corn gluten meal


Brewers yeast (dried)


Meat meal


Vitamin premixed (animal)


Vitamin stress (animal)


Vitamin C


Dry skimmed milk (non fat)


Bone meal


Soybean oil


Table 5

Revenue from trout (in Pakistan Rupies) (Brief on Fisheries, NWFP)



Sale of fish seed

59 500

100 976

Sale of fish

406 294

405 150


133 100

126 769

Comp. fee

8 260

20 925


Trout was introduced to Quetta from Kaghan in 1953. Since then the nearby Karez reservoir and other waters have been regularly stocked with fry and fingerling obtained from the local hatchery at Urruk. It has been suggested to introduce trout culture in Ziarat Valley.


Based upon the observation made at the Madyan Trout Hatchery, Swat, rainbow trout have a better potential than brown trout. It is better growing, tolerates crowding and water temperature fluctuations well.


Ahmad, M.F. and M.S. Niazi, 1988. Important Edible Fishes of Pakistan. Zoological Survey Department, Government of Pakistan. 31p.

Asian Development Bank, 1984. Pakistan Aquaculture Development Project. Feasibility Study. Aquatic Farm Ltd. Honolulu Hawaii USA. 232p.

Brief on fisheries in NWFP, (not dated). Department of Fisheries, Govt. of NWFP. 21p.

Butt, J.A., 1994. Stimulation and promotion of intensive aquaculture in Pakistan. In: Proceedings of National Seminar on Fisheries Policy and Planning: 295-300. Marine Fisheries Department, Government of Pakistan, Karachi.

Hussain, A.G., 1965. Report on the preliminary survey of trout fisheries of Gilgit and Baltistan. Agri. Pak. 16(4): 547-550.

Hussain, K.A., 1994. Some fish species for use in aquaculture in Pakistan. In: Proceedings of National Seminar on Fisheries Policy and Planning 332-339. Marine Fisheries Department, Government of Pakistan, Karachi.

Lone, K.P., 1983. Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture in Pakistan. Directorate of Scientific Information, PARC, Islamabad. 62p.

Naveed, S.A., 1994. Cultivation and introduction of trout in NWFP Province of Pakistan. In: Proceedings of National Seminar on Fisheries Policy and Planning: 326-331. Marine Fisheries Department, Government of Pakistan, Karachi.

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