DHADING, Feb 6: Eateries in Malekhu are becoming increasingly dependent on fish supplies of fish from different tarai districts as well as India as local sources of fish dry up.
Local rivers in and around Malekhu were full of fishes at one point in time. Also, locals used to do commercial fisheries in artificial ponds. But supplies from local sources are near zero, according to operators of local eateries.
Ramesh Sedhai, who runs an eatery in Malekhu on the busy Prithivi Highway, says local hoteliers and restaurateurs are dependent on imports to meet demand in the market as local breeds are becoming rarer by the day. Sedhai, who earns as much as Rs 50,000 on good days, says: "As fish from tarai are not as tasty compared to those sourced locally, the identity of Malekhu is at stake."
However, there has not been much complaint from consumers, Sedhai said, adding that local fishes are becoming extinct due to various environmental reasons and overfishing.
According to Sedhai, production of local fish started declining since 1994 when floods in Trishuli River destroyed habitats of fishes in local rivers. "It left us with no option but to import fish from other districts," he added.
Snow trout, copper mahseer, mottled eel and anchovies are popular fishes available in Malekhu.
“Fried fishes are mostly in demand. Similarly, there is a considerable demand for fish curry in the winter season,” said Shedhai.
Laxmi Magar, another shopkeeper, said: “Fish sourced from tarai districts and India is comparatively cheaper than the local ones.”
Local entrepreneurs said their business has been on the rise since the beginning of winter season. There is an increasing demand for dried as well as fresh fish.
Eateries of Malekhu serve around a ton of fish to consumers during winter months. Demand falls to as low as 500 kg per day during summer season.
Malekhu is now popular all over the country as a hub for fish cuisines. The first eatery serving fish cuisines was established here in 1979 by one Chabi Lal Marahattha. There are more than 100 eateries serving fish cuisines in Malekhu now.