As per the government’s recent initiative, the provincial government would spend billions of capital to renovate its tourists’ destinations by developing modern tourist resorts. Developing a sustainable fishing industry would be a quintessential step in advancing the tourism of the Chitral region. This maneuver can bring long-term economic benefits through setting the market for seafood, promoting tourism, and employment opportunities for the local communities.
Asheq Ali (Picture: Saeed Wali Khan Booni)
The extensive freshwater reservoirs of Chitral have held up enormous terrestrial ecosystems, yet most of the water streams have been flowing lifelessly for an indefinite period. Except few, the aquatic ecosystems of streams have deteriorated due to the absence of the essential flora and fauna species.
Further, it can also yield environmental service through the restoration of both inland and aquatic biodiversity. However, this step would require a thorough analysis of geographic factors and probable natural calamities that might interfere with the ecology of the fish species.
The long-stretched River Chitral has a lot more to offer than mere agricultural utility and a garbage lot. Its cold water, which flows from hundreds of different glaciers, carries essential minerals for aquatic habitats. Also, the varying climatic conditions make the river highly appropriate to commercial cold water fish species such as Salmo Trutta, Copper Mahseer, Rohu, and Snow and Brown Trout. The government may exploit the potential of River Chitral by introducing fish species that could reproduce in a short span and have better adaptability with the varying climatic conditions of the area.
This initiative may open the gates of fortunes for the local community as the presence of fishes transforms the river into exclusive economic zones. Local people could harvest fishes for subsistence as a substantial quantity of fishes is consumed in the local market.
In addition, thousands of children do not attain the usual growth standard due to malnourishment. Inadequate uptake of protein sources during growth years has prolonged implications in older ages, and a person becomes more vulnerable to protein deficiency diseases. Fishes, on the other hand, are an excellent protein source. Easy availability of fish or fish products in the local market may also contribute to meet the protein requirements of both children and elders of the community.
Flexibility in providing tourists’ visas across different regions of the world has allowed greater transnational mobility of people. In Pakistan, for instance, the improvement in security in recent years and flexibility to provide visas has attracted an enormous number of foreign tourists.
According to Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), international tourists had more than tripled since 2013 to 1.75 million in 2016. A thorough analysis of this growth of tourists projects further escalation in years to come, and it is the task of the country to utilize the available tourism potential. In these circumstances, the development of the fishing industry in Chitral would bring another valuable recreational opportunity that could attract local and international tourists. This industry would encourage commercial fishing that can generate massive revenue in the long run. Further, it rolls out several other adventurous events such as Boating, Raft Rodeo, and many others that can also be a prime focus of the visitors.
Other than tourism, the creation of fishing pools by introducing non-native species creates a more significant genetic variability that may catch researchers’ recognition from different corners of the world. Such steps would bring enormous benefits for all the linked communities in Chitral, making the area a web for recreational and research activities.
A high prevalence of employment opportunities marks the fishing industry. The related categories of work in the fishing industry provide a livelihood to millions of workers around the globe. A robust monitoring body is a prerequisite to maintain a healthy fish population. This body would inspect the correct proportion of food available in the river for the fishes. Other than that, many perform the task to protect the fishes from illegal catch and so on. Developing the fishing industry in Chitral would result in the recruitment of expert locals in these positions. This distribution of working jobs would bring bread and butter to many families across the two districts of Chitral.
The induction of non-native fish species can perform fundamental services for maintaining the aquatic and inland ecosystems functioning and resilience. They may contribute to restoring the disrupted marine ecosystem by nutrient regulation of the river through recycling. These fishes live in symbiotic relations with many other organisms providing them the essential nutrients for their survival. The presence of fishes in the river may also contribute to restoring the inland biodiversity. In recent years, some mammals and bird species have dwindled from Chitral due to declining prey. For example, the number of Pelican duck species that feed on fish migrating via Chitral has remarkably declined due absence of prey in the river and artificial ponds. On the other hand, the introduction of fishes increases the width of the food web and helps to feed the terrestrial species as well. Considering these unparallel contributions of fishes towards the ecosystem, the government must initiate the work on developing the fishing industry.
A thorough discussion of the potential benefits of fishing resorts above may have taken your appreciation. Still, now with apparent climatic changes, natural calamities might act as a bottleneck in establishing a chain of fishing resorts. Therefore, an extensive survey on the potential natural disasters and a coherent plan to choose a suitable location for the development of fishing zones are indispensable to safeguard the adobe of fish species.