Director's message

Dr. Uttam K Sarkar

From the small beginning in rental premises at Allahabad in the year 1983 and shifted to the existing campus in the year 1999, ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR) has grown by leaps and bounds in the domain of assessment and conservation of fish genetic resources (FGR) of the country for intellectual property protection, sustainable utilization, and posterity. India holds rich aquatic biodiversity spread across different ecosystems. The country with its four of the 34 biodiversity global hotspots i.e., the Western Ghats, North East Region, Himalayas, and the Nicobar Islands, contributes significantly to aquatic genetic resources.  The country possesses rich fish genetic resources, 3,193 native fish species belonging to 254 families, 53 orders, and 1036 genera. A total of 21 species are critically endangered, 81 endangered, 116 vulnerable, 1204 least concern, and 219 data deficient categories.  The major threats to fish diversity are habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, pollution, over-exploitation, and climate change which warrants immediate attention for conserving the rich fish diversity for sustainable utilisation.  In this context, ICAR-NBFGR is actively involved in the research activities on the aspects of conservation and preservation of fish genetic resources and impact assessment of exotics and fish health management for the benefit of the stakeholders.

The Institute contributed significantly to the various research areas of FGR conservation such as cataloging and documentation of fish genetic resources, in-situ and ex-situ conservation measures, exotics, and fish health management. Notable accomplishments are,  carrying out systematic exploratory surveys in the prioritized freshwater and marine ecosystems including islands; specific research programmes for the fish diversity assessment of the North east region; description of 50 fishes new to the science using integrated taxonomic approach; development of DNA barcodes for 600 fish species for conservation management and; cytoprofiling and genome size assessment for 78 and 50 species respectively;  ascertaining population genetic structure for 30 finfish and shellfish species using molecular markers; decoding the genomes of importnt fish species such as Clarias magur, Labeo rohita, Tenualosa ilisha ; promotion of the concept of 'State Fish', which led to the declaration of 15 fish species as State Fish species by 20 States which involves the local community in the conservation and propagation declared fishes; development of fish diversity and genomics databases, with integrated utility tools for users;  development of species specific sperm cryopreservation protocols for 31 fish species and demonstration of cryopreservation technology for IMCs in various state government owned hatcheries; establishment of National Repository of Fish Cell lines (NRFC) with 69 fish cell lines for the utilisation of researchers ; coordinating pan-India disease surveillance program covering 19 states with the help of 31 collaborating centres including line departments of various states; coordinating Indian Network for Fisheries and Animal Anti-Microbial Resistance (INFAAR) for the study of antimicrobial resistance is the laboratory-based surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in fisheries and aquaculture.

Success stories of the institute includes  expansion of established community aquaculture centres with native marine ornamental fishes and shrimps at various locations of the country in addition to the other outreach programmes covering ecosystems such as Sundarbans, Pichavaram etc., for linking biodiversity conservation and utilization by the local community for their livelihood development. The initiative received appreciation from the Honourable President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu during her visit to the Lakshadweep. The state fish concept got wider reach by the due recognition is being given by the respective states through various programmes for conservation and utilisation. The disease surveillance programme has reported nine fish pathogens for the first time which strengthens the diseases reporting system of the country. Technologies such as Oonil,  a formulation for antifungal diseases; captive propagation of indigenous food and ornamental fish species, and development of vaccine against CyHV2 are being in the stream of commercialization. A few new initiatives such as less studied coastal fish biodiversity assessment, time series analysis of fish biodiversity in the prioritized waterbodies and climate resilient prediction modeling, impact assessment of prioritized exotic fishes are being carried out to strengthen the efforts of the institute in conserving the valuable fish genetic resources of the country.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the institution and other associated collaborating institutions for their dedication, unwavering commitment, and hard work, to achieve the mission so far. I am confident that, together, further remarkable milestones could be achieved which will contribute significantly in the field of fish genetic resource conservation of the country for sustainable utilisation and prosperity.