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Cage-based fish culture in dam

Special Correspondent
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Fish seed stocks, floated in cages, likely to boost inland fish production: Dean, FCRI

New and easy:V. K. Venkataramani, Dean, Fisheries College and Research Institute, stocking freshwater fish seeds in the cages floated at Manimutharu dam in Tirunelveli district on Friday.— Photo: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN
New and easy:V. K. Venkataramani, Dean, Fisheries College and Research Institute, stocking freshwater fish seeds in the cages floated at Manimutharu dam in Tirunelveli district on Friday.— Photo: A. SHAIKMOHIDEEN

In a major breakthrough in developing inland fisheries, Tuticorin-based Fisheries College and Research Institute, has developed an easy-to-follow technology in open water aquaculture, which is likely to substantially augment the fish farmers’ revenue.

Though cage-based fish culture in the irrigation tanks is done at various places, this is the first time in the State fish seeds are stocked in the cages attached to the rafts floating on sprawling water body like a reservoir. As the method is so cost effective and the steps to be followed in this procedure are very simple, it is likely to increase inland fish production substantially.

In this line, cages attached to the floating bamboo rafts, measuring 4 metre X 4 metre in the Manimuthar Dam in the district, were stocked with the seeds of Indian Major Carps and Common Carp by V. K. Venkataramani, Dean, FCRIand M. Venkatasamy, Director of Research and Extension (In-Charge), FCRI in the presence of Joint Director of Fisheries, (Regional) R. Amal Xavier and Assistant Director of Fisheries N. Selvam on Friday.

While explaining the cage farming activity, Dr. Venkataramani said that in general, open waters were mostly used for a variety of purposes in addition to fish production. However, production of fishes from inland water bodies had always been very low when compared to the available production area and volume of water.

“The cage farming technology, as now standardised and recommended by FCRI, has the answer for the higher production at a lower cost,” he said.

While describing the efforts of the scientists of FCRI, the Dean said that the cost of cages was the major bottle neck in the adoption of cage farming by the farmers on a larger scale. Therefore, as a prime step, low cost cages were designed and fabricated by the research team comprising of Professor J. Stephen Sampath Kumar and his associates. The cages designed by Dr. Stephen had proved their efficiency in fish production through a cost effective and easy-to-follow technology.

He further said that the cost of one cage made of iron frame with screen net offering about 2 cubic metre space would cost about Rs. 5,000, which could be attached to the floating bamboo rafts and used for stocking and rearing of fishes. “The cages are usually ranging from 1 square metre to 4 square metre in size made of iron frame and net fabrication with 2 m depth so as to give more space for fishes to live in. There can be feed pipes in the cages for giving feed to the fishes in addition to the food available in the surroundings (water). The pipe is inserted in the middle of the cage. The whole design is owned by the research team of FCRI and after the experiments are completed, there is a proposal to patent the design of the cages,” said Dr. Stephen.

Cages are fixed to the bamboo rafts sitting prettily on the empty air-tight 200-litre plastic barrels and there can be 10 to 15 cages in one raft offering 25 to 50 cubic metre of rearing space for the fishes. In total, a raft with 10 cages can be made at a cost of Rs. 50,000, which is 50 per cent less than the cost of any imported cage that was used before in many other experiments in the country.

The life of the cages is also 5 years under proper maintenance and with the short term cropping of 150 days, 2 crops per year are a real possibility. These cages can be easily sampled and the production (growth) can be regularly monitored, said Dr. Stephen.

In the cage farming of Indian Major Carps at Fisheries College and Research Institute farms in 4 sq.m. metal frame cage with 10 mm knot less net, 4 kg per cubic metre production has been realised, which is almost 40 times greater than the normal production in the same open water. “This technology can be adopted by the farmers effectively and the production can be enhanced,” Dr. Venkataramani said.

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