Separate Central fisheries dept. sought

KOCHI JAN. 3. Twenty-three recommendations, including the need to form a separate fisheries department at the centre, diversification of fisheries resources, promotion of ornamental fisheries and the need for a national database on fisheries resources have been submitted, based on presentations at the recently-concluded international seminar on `Aquaculture and ornamental fisheries'.

The conference was organised here in connection with Aqua Show 2003.

Stating this at a press conference organised at the Ernakulam Press Club, the Minister for Fisheries and Tourism, K. V. Thomas, said that a synopsis of the talks and the resolutions passed at the conference will be made into a booklet form. There are many recommendations to promote ornamental fisheries and aquaculture. The director of Fisheries, K. Suresh Kumar, was among those who were present at the venue.

The conference called for regional co-operation between Asian countries in the fields of transfer of technology, maintenance of quality standards, biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, market research and alerts on disease outbreak. Utilisation of suitable plant protein substitutes and conferring the status of agriculture on shrimp aquaculture are the other suggestions. Considering the tourism potential of ornamental fisheries, aqua parks and ocean aria have to be established in appropriate locations to attract tourists.

There is immense potential for recreational and cold-water fisheries in India and these can contribute to the ecological, economic and cultural development of the country. Having understood the backward nature of the ornamental fisheries sector in India, vis-a-vis even smaller countries like Sri Lanka, it was recommended that the deficiencies in infrastructure should be rectified by setting up EPZs in strategic locations, providing standard hatchery facilities, certification of brood stock/seed of exotic species, disease diagnostic centres and import of live seed materials. In order to introduce and make indigenous ornamental species more competitive in the global market, research and development efforts have to be strengthened in areas like genetic upgradation, creation of new varieties, colour enhancement, disease resistance and captive breeding technologies. The industry should shift its focus from capture-based operations to culture-based, to make it more sustainable.

There is an urgent need to bring in legislation to restrict and regulate wild collection of ornamental fish stocks for domestic and international marketing and for preserving the biodiversity of the country. The marketing of indigenous ornamental fishes should be based on seedlings produced under captive conditions, based on standardised breeding techniques.

Introduction of exotic varieties of ornamental fishes should be based on strict quarantine measures, to prevent disease spread and to conserve biodiversity. Intensive training programmes have to be organised on a regular basis to entrepreneurs in ornamental fisheries, by R and D organisations, with the help of implementing agencies like the MPEDA, FFDA, State Fisheries departments, etc.

The Kolathoor model of ornamental fish trade as a cottage industry can be promoted and popularised by organising self-help groups of women, after proper training, for the creation of new employment opportunities.

New promotional schemes have to be formulated and implemented by the Central and State Governments to give financial support to entrepreneurs for setting up ornamental breeding and culture units.

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