Govt eyes bigger catch from inland fisheries

The government is working on a plan to double the output from inland fisheries by bringing more land under aquaculture.

Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma said on Monday that moves were on to launch a programme targeting a production of 80,000 tonnes, double the current output from the sector.

Addressing the media here, she said the fisheries policy to be announced soon would spell out measures to harness the immense potential of inland fisheries for the economic development of the State. “Aquaculture is confined to less than 4,000 hectares in Kerala, while studies have shown that 68,000 hectares can be used for the purpose. The State currently exports only Rs. 5,400 crore of fish, with production unable to match the demand for domestic consumption and export.”

New methods

The government, she said, was committed to promoting aquaculture. Modern methods like cage culture, recirculatory aquaculture, and zero water exchange shrimp farming would be widely adopted.

The Minister said the government would intensify the drive against chemical contamination of fish.

Formalin-laced ice

The next step of the campaign would focus on investigations to detect the presence of formalin in the ice used for preserving fish. “Traders are reported to be using formalin-laced ice to maximise the quantum of fish in containers. Checks will be carried out to identify the source of contaminated ice and action taken against traders.”

The Minister said Kerala would take the initiative to create a consensus among south Indian States against destructive and unsustainable fishing methods.

“Efforts are on to convene a meeting of ministers in August to discuss the issue,” the Minister said.

Rs. 2 crore as fine

She said the government had collected a fine of Rs. 2 crore from fishing boats violating the ban on juvenile fishing.

The crackdown had succeeded in curbing the practice among fishermen from Kerala, she said, adding that it would take similar action by other States to arrest the decline in fish stocks.

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