The plan to start an academic programme in fisheries science under the Assam Agricultural University was conceptualized following a discussion on the subject in the ICAR Region II Committee Meeting held in 1982. The University prepared a plan and proposal to develop the College of Fisheries and submitted the same for consideration to the ICAR and the Government of Assam. The ICAR constituted a committee to accredit the proposal, which advised to start a 4 years BFSc. degree programme vide Memo No.4-3/82- Edn. Dtd.16-10- 1985; suggesting an allocation of Rs. 240 lakh in the VIIth plan period. The committee also suggested 70:30 pattern assistance from the ICAR: State Government for development of the College. The Government of Assam advised the University to start the College at the present location at Raha and accordingly the University, initiated development of (1) the academic unit; (2) the boys’ hostel; (3) two staff quarters and renovated 3 existing houses to accommodate office, library, etc. All of these buildings are of semi-permanent nature.
The BFSc. degree programme in the College has thus started with effect from the academic year 1987- 88.The necessity of starting a formal education in fishery science was felt to cater to the technical manpower need on the subject, for meaningful and justified utilization of the vast aquatic potential of the North Eastern Region as a whole. North east India is endowed with high potential aquatic resources. The eco-climatic zones of freshwater fishery varied from warm water drainage system to coldwater condition. It has 5.63 lakh ha inland water bodies which includes, 20,875 kms rivers & canals; 0.33 lakh ha. reserviors, 3.71 lakh ha. tanks & ponds, 1.59 lakh ha. flood plain lakes & derelict water bodies and 0.028 lakh ha rice-cum-fish culture area. The region is competent with 82,962 ha inland fisheries stock. North Eastern (N.E.) India represents approximately 33% of total 2,163 freshwater fish species of India. So far, 267 fish species belonging to 114 genera have been reported from the N.E. region.
The vast aquatic resource potential and the prevailing agro-climatic conditions of the Region, however, do not reflect any impact on the production profile of fish and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the Region. Thus it had necessitated the building up of technical manpower on the subject to enable the Region to manage and exploit its aquatic resources in a scientific manner. The entire Region is deficient in fish production while immense scope exists to boost up the level of production with concomitant generation of employment avenues. The concept of starting the academic programme was thus to meet the necessity.
The ICAR Accreditation Committee initially suggested to start the academic programme at the campus of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Khanapara, utilizing available infrastructure there. However, considering various aspects, Govt. of Assam suggested to shift the site to the present location at Raha.The present site of the college is located at a distance of 27 km. west of Nagaon, the headquarter of Nagaon district on the National Highway 37; and 100 km. towards east of the state capital- Guwahati.
The academic programme of the College was started in the academic year 1987-88 with recruitment of three lecturers under the control of an Officer on Special Duty. To teach supportive courses, such as language, economics and chemistry, part- time teachers were inducted. The office was manned by an Upper Division Assistant; a Junior Accountant; a Lower Division Assistant and a typist, while to handle other odd jobs persons were engaged on temporary basis in the initial years.
The initial infrastructure of the College was limited to (1) one academic unit having- (a)two class rooms; (b) one laboratory and store; (c) six staff rooms: (2) one student hostel: (3) two staff quarters: (4) one teachers barrack: (5) one renovated quarter and (6) one renovated farm house for library. All these are of semi- permanent nature.Growth of Institution
The College of Fisheries started the academic programme with a 4-year course syllabus, duly approved by the Academic Council of the University in the academic year 1987-88; containing 143 credits. This syllabus contained courses for the students enrolled during 1997-98. Thereafter, a new syllabus framed under the guidelines of the Deans’ Committee was implemented with effect from the academic year 1998-99 and it is being continued. The new syllabus accommodates 160 credit hours in 8 semesters. Again this syllabus was also modified by the 4thDeans’ Committee in the year 2009 containing 170 credits.The same is continuing till date with little modification that leads to increase of total credits up to 176. This syllabus includes In-Plant Training (20 credits) at the VIIth semester and Hands on Training (HoT) (20 credits) at the VIIIth semester.
Initially the College although framed the syllabus to be composed of courses under six major departments; the academic programme progressed without notification of the departments. A decade after starting of the College of Fisheries, the University finally created the following six departments and Faculty of Fisheries Science vide Memo No. AAU/R-417(ii)/99-00/7515- 574 dtd. 21-08-1999 with Assam Gazette notification.
1) Department of Aquaculture.
2) Department of Fishery Biology including Fishery Biochemistry and Fishery Microbiology.Presently renamed as Fishery Resource Management.
3) Department of Fishery Hydrography.Presently renamed as Fisheries Environmental Science.
4) Department of Fishery Engineering and Technology.
5) Department of Fishery Economics and Management.
6) Department of Fishery Extension Education.
Having a group of qualified teaching
staff from various fisheries institutions of home and abroad, the
college endeavours to maintain quality in the teaching programme, even
though adequate and modern facilities are scanty. Depending upon the
quality of incoming students, the graduates are in a position to express
their ability in competitive examinations as well as in finding
placement in Employment Avenue. However, the College cannot claim to
achieve a higher level in imparting qualitative education, due to lack
of adequate facilities and modern equipments for class room teaching.
College has been endeavouring to adopt the ICAR norms in imparting
class room education. It includes adoption of the national pattern of
syllabus and introduction of external evaluation system. It may be noted
however, that as per the ICAR norms, various departments have not been
organised and staffed accordingly. Activities of the college being
concentrated to the teaching programme, with the limited teaching staff,
emphasis on research activities is limited to having sponsored research
schemes from ICAR or other funding agencies. Same is the case with
extension activities in the College.Intake capacity
With regards to student intake capacity, the number of seats was fixed at 20 for male students for initial couple of years. But due to demand the introduction of girls’ students had been made from the year 2005. Again with the development of infrastructure and also demand for the human resource in the N.E. region the intake capacity of the College is increased to 25 from 2015. To cater to the need of human resource at higher level the college opened the M.F.Sc. course in Aquaculture discipline in the year 2011 and Ph.D. in Aquaculture from the year 2015.Present status of institution
The College framed the ongoing B.F.Sc. syllabus following the guidelines of the Deans’ Committee (IVth Deans’ Committee). At present the college is offering MFSc and Ph.D. only in Aquaculture department.
Having a group of highly qualified teachers and researchers, the institution is capable to support economic development of the region through its mandate, provided infrastructural support is made available. Due to inadequate financing, the activities of the College are being forced to be restricted to academic activities only. Negligence and poor perception of the state governments and administration, for fisheries prospects, result in poor utilization of aquatic resource potential in the Region, which otherwise could contribute appreciably to the GDP.
Such a view of the state government, in other words, has affected adversely the growth of this College. It is being reflected in expanding infrastructural facilities to enable to strengthen the educational programme and start post- graduate courses, even after 27 years of existence of the College. The College is still deficient in teaching and other supportive staff, to recognize the academic infrastructure into designated departments. With regard to facilities for extracurricular activities of students, bare minimum facilities exist, which in reality may aid in growth of other facultative qualities of the students. In spite of the various deficiencies, the College has made strident efforts to adopt the ICAR syllabus for the B.F.Sc. degree programme and for M.F.Sc. and Ph. D. (in some discipline). The teaching staff is the capital strength to maintain the academic standard at par with other colleges of the country and thus students not only from the N.E. Region but also from states like Odissa, Kerala and other North Eastern States are studying in this College. Further, the teaching staffs are often associated with various training activities of the Directorate of Fisheries; State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad and Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI). No doubt that infrastructural facilities is a major constraint to undertake continued research activities and solve problems faced by fisher folk and so far only a few supportive research projects have been completed in the College. However, it is worth mentioning that efforts of the College with assistance of the NFDB have resulted in documentation of fish diseases in Assam, livelihood promotion through fish drying and fish product (pickle) development in the state, fish seed raising in beels in low cost cages for stocking in the wetlands of Assam in order to create and enhance fishers’ alternative livelihood, development of management policy for native fish species Gudusia chapra in beels of Assam etc. Principal Investigator of some research schemes have received invitation to be a speaker in workshops, seminar etc. The College although cannot claim to achieve the mandate in full strength, it has reached a point by creating a cadre of trained man power for the region and given opportunities,it would be able to fulfill the goals set for the institution.