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Getting to know the riches of the sea

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Learning experience: Visitors viewing an exhibit featured at a stall set up at Matsyamahotsav 2009, organised by the Matsyafed, in Thiruvananthapuram.
Learning experience: Visitors viewing an exhibit featured at a stall set up at Matsyamahotsav 2009, organised by the Matsyafed, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Special Correspondent

Exhibition of fisheries products and services is part of Matsyafed’s Silver Jubilee programmes

Thiruvananthapuram: Matsyamahotsav 2009, a six-day festival of fisheries products and services organised by Kerala State Cooperative Federation for Fisheries Development Ltd. (Matsyafed) here is drawing crowds.

The exhibition part of the event, organised in connection with the closing of the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Matsyafed, comprises more than a dozen stalls belonging to the Coast Guard and academic and research and development institutions in the country.

The stall put up by the Coast Guard features the live display of a lifeboat and pictures of beach-landing operations to highlight the vigil and rescue activities of the force. Display of assistance to fishing vessels in distress, advanced offshore patrol and fast-patrol vessels and interceptor boats are the other attractions in the Coast Guard stall.

National institutions like the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology and State organisations like the Agency for Development of Aquaculture, Kerala (ADAK), Kerala Agricultural University, Fisheries College and the Kerala University Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries are also taking part in the exhibition.

Exhibits

The exhibits in the stall by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology give us an insight into the improved methods of fish processing. Visitors to the stall get an idea of the usage of preservatives in fish curing.

Utilisation of chitin, chitosan and glucosamine hydrochloride (derived from prawn shell) as a sizing material for rayon, synthetic fibre, cotton and wool; its use in cosmetics and pharmaceutical purposes and as a water clarifying agent are explained. (Chitosan is derived from chitin, a natural product which is quite abundant in shrimp shells.

Chitin is a non-toxic, biodegradable polymer of high molecular weight. It presents exceptional chemical and biological qualities making it useful in a variety of industrial and medical applications.)

The demand for glucosamine hydrochloride as a dietary supplement and in controlling arthritis is explained, the reports on the display reveal.

The National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology and Training (the erstwhile Integrated Fisheries Project) NIFPHATT has used the exhibition to underline the need for inclusion of fish in daily diet. It presents a wide range of fish preparations, most of them in a canned and ready- to-serve state.

Canned tuna, mackerel and dried fish products along with frozen specialty products like fish fillet, fingers, kheema and fritters are on display. NIFPHATT, under the Union Ministry of Agriculture owns the Sagar brand of fish and fishery products.

Fisheries Minister S. Sharma inaugurated the exhibition on Friday. Speaking on the occasion, he said the global economic slowdown had affected the fisheries sector in the State, with exports registering a 20 to 30 per cent drop. This, he said, had caused a loss of Rs.600 crore.

The Minister said the government had taken up a Rs.800 crore development package for the fisheries sector this year. Of this, Rs.10 crore would be spent on creating jobs for the fisherfolk who had lost their means of livelihood.

Mr. Sharma said Rs.400 crore had been set apart for setting up 10 fishing harbours, Rs.7.6 crore for fish-landing centres, Rs.40 crore each for renovation of coastal roads and fishing harbours and Rs.4.5 crore for fisheries schools this financial year.

Development

The Minister said Rs.15 crore had been provided for the Coastal Development Corporation that would start functioning this year.

“Of the 2.5 lakh active fishermen in the State, only 55,000 are owners of fishing equipment. This is one of the major handicaps and challenge facing the sector. The government is committed to ensuring that fishermen become the owners of fishing equipment,” he said. Mr. Sharma said steps should be taken by Matsyafed to give membership to all eligible fishermen.

Matsyafed chairman V.V. Saseendran presided over the inaugural function. Managing director Kesavan Nair, Director of Fisheries Sheikh Parikh and Chief Engineer (Harbour Engineering) N. Mohan Kumar spoke.

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