The draft policy proposes district-level master plans for aquaculture and the extension of fish farming to all reservoirs

The draft aquaculture policy submitted to the government on Thursday has recommended the adoption of modern technologies and participatory methods for environmentally sustainable aquaculture in Kerala.

Prepared by a committee set up for the purpose, the draft document moots the establishment of demonstration aquaculture farms, broodstock banks and live fish markets, an aquaculture crop guarantee fund to compensate farmers hit by natural calamities and Green certification for ornamental fish farming. It also recommends a leasing policy to promote aquaculture in water bodies.

The document proposes zonation for aquaculture farms using remote sensing, GIS and GPS technologies. It urges the government for steps to promote aquaculture as a social venture with support from the government and local bodies.

The 12- member committee chaired by fisheries expert M.N. Kutty proposes introduction of commercially valuable species and a subsidy package to promote diversification. It stresses the need for quarantine facilities at major ports for import and export of ornamental fish and mobile aqua clinics for disease diagnosis and control. An ecosystem approach based on community participation has been mooted to promote aquaculture.

The document calls for promoting organic methods of fish farming. It also highlights the relevance of integrating aquaculture with agriculture and animal husbandry. The draft policy proposes district-level master plans for aquaculture and the extension of fish farming to all reservoirs. The committee has also suggested that the Department of Fisheries be renamed as the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The panel including representatives from the Fisheries University, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, University of Kerala and Kerala Agricultural University held discussions with fisheries experts and representatives of fish farmers.