Bangalore, Apr 17: A new initiative is on the cards to bale out fish production in Karnataka both marine and inland, now in troubled waters.
Stagnant at about 175,000 tonnes over the last 15 years the State Fisheries department is making all out efforts to improve its marine fish production besides tackling acute shortage in supply of fish seeds for inland fishing by bringing in various measures.
State Fisheries Director H S Veerappa Gowda talking to UNI attributed lack of infrastructure facilities, over exploitation near shore areas, reluctance to opt for deep sea fishing and sharp decline in fish population as the reasons for the stagnant production.
Mr Gowda pointed out that the annual marine production was around 1.75 lakh metric tonnes as against the estimated potential of 4.25 lakh metric tonnes--2.25 lakh mt from inshore zone up to a depth of 70 metres and remaining two lakh mt from the offshore sea zone.
He informed that a detailed plan has been submitted to the government by the department for improving infrastructure facilities by constructing and maintaining fishing harbours, landing centres, fisheries link roads and bridges.
It had also recommended sea ranching--stocking of prawn and fish seed in sea, motorisation of traditional fishing crafts and remission of Central excise duty on purchase of high speed diesel by mechanised fishing boats.
Besides, it had also suggested employing fish aggregating devices off the coast, promoting mussle, oyster and seaweeds culture using rack and ren and long line technologies along the coast and in the open sea and other measures to improve the production, he added.
He also said NABARD had come forward to offer financial assistance to improve infrastructure for both marine fish production and inland fishing. The Department had submitted a detailed plan for Rs 40 crore and it had been approved by the state cabinet.
He said Karnataka had over 300 km of coastline and 27,000 sq km of continental shelf area, rich in pelagic fisheries resources. Of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 million sq km, Karnataka's share was about 87,000 sq km.
Despite, the stagnant condition in marine fish production, a steady upward trend was being witnessed in its value, with per kilo fetching Rs 26.7 now as against Rs 3.15 during 1990-91.
Mr Gowda said there was a strong plea from the fishing community for supply of power at subsidised rates, especially for the fish processing sector. Due to the higher input cost of power in Karnataka, most of those involved in fish processing activities, either preferred to close down or move to neighbouring states.