GUWAHATI, Aug 10 – The Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, believes that Assam can become a top fish producer because of physical advantages and adoption of new technologies. The challenge is to make fish farmers embrace certain changes and protect the environment in which fish is reared.
The well-known facility that has promoted fish production in the country and achieved a high rate of success has been providing necessary inputs to the State Fisheries department and shaping a new approach to enhance both the quantity and quality of fish produce.
Speaking exclusively to The Assam Tribune, Dr Dilip Kumar, the director of CIFE said, “The time has come for Assam to utilize its natural advantages. In very few other States do we have such virgin water bodies where fish can be farmed with such ease.”
He believes that proper technology made available in time would certainly be a boost to fish farmers. Some positive trends have already been observed, and with more fish farmers embracing new knowledge and skills the State will witness a rapid rise in production.
In Guwahati to launch the first freshwater prawn hatchery, Dr Kumar said that freshwater prawn will become a key income generator to farmers of the State. “There is a huge demand for prawn not just in this region, but also in Bangladesh. The fish farmers could easily multiply their income by raising prawn along with some other fish types,” he remarked.
Freshwater prawn has already been commercially harvested in Tripura, where farmers get anything between Rs 600 to Rs 1,000 per kilo. The process of raising prawn is relatively less costly, creating an ideal situation for fish farmers even with small areas at their disposal.
He revealed that the State Fisheries department has been successful in managing the first freshwater prawn hatchery and with two more coming up in Dhubri and Silchar, the fish farmers would be able to procure a steady supply of seedlings. “They have used synthetic sea water, which has proved to be a great success in the new hatchery,” Dr Kumar added.
Admitting great potential for freshwater prawn cultivation in Assam, the senior scientist however cautioned that aquaculture in the State would only bring in rich harvests if the existing water bodies are protected from pollutants. Pollution in natural water bodies has been reported from several parts of the State, and consequently, fish farmers have expressed their concerns.
“Fish are highly sensitive to the quality of their habitat, and it has been seen that fertilisers used in agriculture and raw sewage affect them to a very great extent,” Dr Kumar noted, and hoped that Assam Government would recognise this fact so that fish farmers were not adversely affected.
On climate change and its influence on aquaculture in Assam, he was circumspect, saying “a lot of data needs to be acquired before anything substantial can be said about the impact on climate change on fish farming…” However, a rise of one or two degree in temperature could help the growth of some fish types which are in demand in the region, he added.