Lakpa Sherpa

The first Begnas Fish Festival paves the way for mobilizing local businesses for sustainable watershed management and tourism

Posted on: 3/19/2015

By: Lakpa Sherpa, Project Officer, LI-BIRD

The first ever fish festival in the Western Development Region was successfully organized in the Mandare Park of Begnas Lake from 6 to 8 March 2015. The festival saw over 50,000 visitors. One visitor summarized it as “an immersive festival that united us at the City of Seven Lakes.”

Organized by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Begnas, the festival provided a unique opportunity to increase the marketing opportunity of ecosystem services provided by Begnas Watershed.

Although festivals are regular calendar event in Pokhara and Lekhnath Municipalities, the Begnas Fish Festival was organized to increase tourism in the Begnas watershed. The festival also helped raise awareness on agricultural products of the watershed, including, coffee, honey, local foods and neglected and underutilized species as well as medicinal plants of Lekhnath Municipality. The event highlighted the Lekhnath Visit Year 2072/73.

Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD) was one of the main supporters of the fish festival. The event was promoted by the Lekhnath Municipality Office, Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the Nepal Tourism Board. The Begnas Boat Association co-organized the festival while, various local stakeholders such as, the Begnas Youth Club, Begnas Market Management Committee, Begnas Womens' Group, Lekhnath Hardware Association, SEED Foundation Nepal, Begnas Fishery Research Centre under the Nepal Agriculture Research Council, the District Fishery Business Committee Kaski were other contributors to the festival.

The Begnas Fish Festival was inaugurated by releasing fish fingerlings of rohu, naini, grass carp, bighead carp and sahar in the Begnas lake. Photo: Lakpa Sherpa/LI-BIRD.

The Begnas Fish Festival was inaugurated by releasing fish fingerlings of rohu, naini, grass carp, bighead carp and sahar in the Begnas lake. Photo: Lakpa Sherpa/LI-BIRD.

The exhibition in the festival featured over 40 commercial stalls of food and fish items. Farmers exhibited local varieties including rice, local honey, wild honey, medicinal herbs and coffee. In addition, the festival had a boating competition, swimming competion and cultural shows.

The Chair of LI-BIRD’s Executive Board, Mr. Krishna Prasad Baral, as the chief guest, inaugurated the festival by releasing fish fingerlings into the Begnas Lake.

The President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association, Mr. Durga Prasad Adhikari admired LI-BIRD for its valuable collaboration for the success the first fish festival in Kaski. He further added, “I think the festival has an important role in promoting tourism but we should not overlook the conservation of Lake. I am particularly pleased to acknowledge the financial support from the Lekhnath Municipality to remove invasive plants [from the Begnas Lake].” The Chief of Lekhnath Municipality, Mr. Ram Chandra Paudyal, The President of the Lekhnath Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mr. Baburam Giri and the political parties also appreciated the event as a key step to promote the Begnas watershed as an attractive tourist destination.

This fish festival highlighted the various recreational services provided by the Begnas Watershed raising the consciousness of local stakeholders about the opportunities arising from sustainable management of the watershed. The first festival did not have an entry free, but considering the huge turn out, there are talks of having a nominal entry fee for the second fish festival and using part of the proceeds to support watershed conservation activities.

Acknowledgement: This event was partly supported by the Swiss Re Foundation funded "Mobilizing Local Institutions For Sustainable Management Of Watershed Services In Nepal" project and the IFAD funded, "Neglected and Underutilized Species III" project.