Assam hopes to meet fish demand in 3 years

Guwahati, Jan. 26 : Assam has always paid a huge import bill for buying fish. But it is on its way to becoming self-sufficient in fish production in the next three years.

Announcing the 5th Assam Matsya Mahotsav — a three-day fish festival to be held at Shilpgram in Panjabari from January 27-29 — fisheries minister Nurjamal Sarkar said here that Dispur has taken steps in the past few years to bring down the deficit and make the state self-sufficient in fish production.

He said fish production had increased in the past five years — from 181.48 lakh tonnes in 2006-07 to 190.32 lakh tonnes in 2007-08, 206.74 lakh tonnes in 2008-09 and 218.82 lakh tonnes in 2009-10. The target for 2010-11 is 230 lakh tonnes, he added.

The total fish requirement in the state is 2.36 lakh tonnes.

“In 2009-10, the fish import was 18,450 lakh tonnes of which 5,250 lakh tonnes were exported to the neighbouring states,” Sarkar said.

Though the total surface water area for fish in the state is 3.90 lakh hectares, the aggregate demand for fish has always exceeded production.

Sarkar said several measures had helped the state increase fish production. During the Eleventh Plan, 6,080 hectares of water area has been created for fish farming. Fish Seed Rules 2010 was framed under the Fish Seed Act for the first time to regulate fish seed production to ensure availability of quality fish seed to farmers.

Sarkar said an angling and aquarium hub, the first in the state, will be inaugurated at Matsya Vikash Sarovar, Panbazar on January 29. The commissioner and secretary of fisheries department, P.K. Barthakur, said, “The hub will help youths to take an interest in aquariums and later take it up as a profession.”

The festival will include seminars, exhibition, games and drawing competition on the fisheries sector. It will be attended by experts from the fisheries sector. The idea is to fulfil the dream of a blue revolution in the state.

Barthakur said a fresh prawn hatchery has been established for the first time in the state to popularise prawn farming. A state fishery laboratory has also been established for assessment of quality fish seed and diagnosis of fish diseases, among others.

He said Rs 5 lakh has been proposed for taking up farming of ornamental fish, which has good export value, in 2011-12. Besides, Rs 3,958.30 lakh has been proposed for the fisheries sector in 2011-12 for steps such as developing fish seed farming and restore derelict waterbodies.