Pursuance to a recommendation made by Fisheries Development Advisor to Government of India, the Fisheries Department in Himachal Pradesh was created during August 1950 as a wing of Forest Department headed by Deputy Warden of Fisheries. The main activities envisaged for the department was conservation of riverine fisheries, production and protection of sport fisheries, issuing of licenses, breeding and production of trout seed, their plantation in rivers & streams for augmentation of riverine stock. Till February 1965, the control of the department mainly remained vested under the Forest department but later it was shifted to Agriculture department for a short period of 6-7 months while subsequently it was declared an as independent department in early 1966.
Till 1966, the activities of the department mainly remained conservational in nature. Bulk of posts created in the department were of class IV category - partly-educated or illiterate, stationed in different riverine pockets for watch and ward purposes. Out of the 98 establishment strength of the department only four were in gazetted rank. The thrust was only on sport fisheries. The trout being the focal fish, the seed of brown and rainbow trout used to be produced in three trout farms located at Chirgoan, Mahli/ Patlikuhl and Barot. Meanwhile during 1955, mirror carp was introduced in the State. In view of ideal ecological conditions, the introduced fish not only thrived successfully in the new water but also started propagating. The transplantation of mirror carp in fact laid the foundation of fish farming in Himachal Pradesh as earlier to this, the entire fish fauna of the State belonged to rheophylic type and none of the endemic fish was suitable for growing in impounded waters.
With the reorganization of the State during 1966,a large water body viz Gobindsagar with water spread of 1600 ha at FRL got added in to fisheries resources of the state. Later another large water body viz Pong reservoir with water spread of 24000 ha. also got created. These two reservoirs with combined water spread of 40000 ha unfolded a great challenge in order to harness them for fish production. Seed stocking and fisheries in reservoirs added a new area of activity for the department. This also followed by introduction of Indian Major Carps in Himachal Pradesh. During early eighties under a Centrally Sponsored scheme Fish Farmer’s Development Agency was setup in the State with headquarter at Una
Notwithstanding, the plurality of activities added during the successive years, the overall growth of the department mainly in terms of staff strength, the cumulative fish production and employment generation in fisheries sector remained insignificant and lopsided. The commercial fishery was non existent. There were hardly any fish assembly centres, markets etc. The fishing methods were primitive, the cast net being the major gear of fishermen.
1976 was a crucial year in the history of Himachal Fisheries when a "Reservoir Development Committee" was constituted and number of decisions were taken for judicious Management of Reservoir Fisheries. As a first step the fishing activity was completely transfered to Cooperative Societies. Emphasis was laid on conservation, stocking, enforcement of close-season and initiation of welfare schemes for the fishermen. Meanwhile during 1991, ICAR set up its centre for undertaking scientific management on ecology and fisheries of Gobindsagar. This greatly helped in developing commercial fisheries in Gobindsagar reservoir, Pong reservoir was also developed on similar lines.
During 1984, a foreign aided project was formulated aimed at commercial farming of trout. After preliminary investigations the Royal Norwegian Government agreed to provide financial and technical support in the implementation of project in Himachal Pradesh. The implementation of this project completely transformed the facet of trout fishery in the State. The commercial trout farming which hitherto was non existent emerged as major prospective activity of the department.
With the advent of ninety the department got new impetus. The priorities of the department got rearranged. The culture fishery was given precedence over the capture fisheries. The major thrust areas identified in order of importance were reservoir fisheries, commercial farming of trout, aquaculture and riverine fisheries.
Reservoir Development Policy was redrafted. Reservoir seed stocking programme was regularized and intensified. Strict provisions were incorporated in fisheries Act. And above all series of fishermen welfare schemes were initiated. This all ushered in an era of steep increase in reservoir fish production. The Gobindsagar occupied a status of highest unit area fish production in the country. Similarly the Pong reservoir attained the status of providing highest per Kg. rates of fish being paid to the fishermen in the country.
During ninety a number of Centrally Sponsored Scheme were sanctioned to Government of Himachal Pradesh including the 2nd Fish Farmer’s Development Agency. The other major schemes are Inland Fish Marketing, Inland Fisheries Statistics, Extension and Training, Model Fishermen Village, Insurance for Fishermen etc.
The plan outlay of the department received a big boost during 10th & 11th plan period. commercial trout farming which was a distant dream in early eightees became a reality when the technology was disseminated to the rural youths of Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and Shimla districts. Himachal became the first state to popularize the trout farming in private sector.
During 2006 in order to safeguard the aquatic biodiversity Government of Himachal Pradesh took a historic decision by making release of atleast 15% water downstream dams & weirs of Hydro Power Project, mandatory besides declaring Tirthan river as free from Hydro Power Projects. Sternums efforts were made by the department for increase in fish seed production and stocking of seed by expanding the rearing space at the existing farms and purchase of seed from outside. The fish production of state increased to 7798 tonnes during year 2009-09 thus registering an increase of 461.57 tonnes over previous year 2007-08. the revenue earned by the department reached a level of 185.5 lakhs during 2008-09.