The cage fish culture in the Hirakud Reservoir is a successful model and it would soon substantially augment inland freshwater fish production in the State, according to Chief Secretary Suresh Mahapatra.
He said this after assessing its progress both at a high-level review and a spot visit to the reservoir where he interacted with fishermen, fish entrepreneurs and field officials.
Mahapatra directed the concerned departments to operationalise the common facility centre and testing laboratory before mass harvesting. The department was asked to expedite fixing of fish landing floating jetty in a time-bound manner.
He also assured the Government’s infrastructural support for promotion of fishing activities in the reservoir. An Inland Fisheries Research Laboratory would be made functional for surveillance of aqua health and environmental impact assessment. It would also help the fish farmers in testing health of the fishes being grown in the cages.
The CS further directed to limit the cage aquaculture maximum up to 1% surface area of the reservoir. Deputy Director, Fisheries Biraja Dwibedi appraised that so far 32 cage aquaculture zones encompassing 625 sub-zones are identified well within the limits of national guidelines. Out of this, 101 subzones are allotted to local entrepreneurs through invitation of the expression of interest. So far, 71 entrepreneurs have started their field operations after signing MoUs with the department. Cage installation is complete in 30 sub-zones. It is decided to mobilise other selected entrepreneurs for completing installation of 180 circular cages over 60 sub-zones and 264 rectangular cages over 11 sub-zones in coming 6 months.
Data show that the Hirakud Reservoir has a vast potential for cage fish culture. It would accommodate 1,875 circular cages of 16-mt diameters and 5-mt depth or 15,000 rectangular cages of 4x6x4-mt dimensions with production potential of more than 45,000 metric tonnes of fish. Different fish species could be grown in this cage culture technique. With installation of cages in 101 allotted subzones over coming six months, one could expect a bumper production of around 14,500 MT of fish in each harvesting cycle. There could be two harvesting cycles in a year.
The CS said the State Government has also initiated a process for providing market-link support to the entrepreneurs.