West Bengal to export fish to foreign countries, including Dubai, Japan and China

West Bengal to export fish to foreign countries, including Dubai, Japan and China

Kolkata, May 11: With an eye on exporting an array of fishes to various foreign countries, including Dubai, Japan and China, West Bengal has categorized fisheries sector as a ‘sunrise sector’, thereby providing investment opportunities in areas of fish production, fish exports, fish processing and fish tourism.

State Fisheries Department has got a whopping order of around Rs 900 crore to export the species to these countries.

‘This is for the first time that the fisheries department has taken up such a unique initiative that will not only create a market for Bengal’s fishes in the foreign countries, but also help develop the financial condition of the state’s fishermen, ‘ according to State Fisheries Minister Chandranath Sinha.

‘ To meet the ongoing demands of fishers in the international market, the department is setting up processing units with modern facilities at Nalban in Salt Lake and at Henry Island in South 24-Parganas, ‘ he added.

The fishes that would be exported to the foreign countries will be processed and packed in these units.

The State Fisheries Development Corporation has increased the fish production in the state by a record margin, and pisciculture is being carried out in most of the stated-owned ponds and water bodies.

The department has also chalked out plans on how to engage more unemployed rural youth and women in pisciculture through the formation of various self-help groups in the villages.

‘The state Fisheries department has already been distributing fingerlings to people at free of cost, ‘ he said adding, ‘ The Fisheries department is providing technical assistance to the villagers in this regard. ‘

Bengal’s beloved Hilsa fish will soon become the first Indian fish to get legal protection as West Bengal

Fisheries Department is planning on introducing laws that will make it illegal to catch, buy and sell Hilsa that weighs under 500 gm.

Known as the “King of fishes”, an organically bred hilsa fish can weigh up to 2.5 kilos but finding one of that weight is becoming increasingly difficult. In order to protect the fish, the fisheries department is will put stringent measures in places under Cr PC and IPC that will stop the distribution of those fish that weigh under 500 gm.

Mr Sinha, said, “ The proposal was floated at a recent meeting at the fisheries department. We will soon approach the state home department to start the process of bringing provisions under Cr Pc and IPC in this regard. ”

Currently, the fisheries department doesn’t have the power to arrest or impose fines on the catching and distribution of small hilsa in Bengal.

However, there are some regulations in place including catching Hilsa during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon season when the fish migrates to the Hooghly river from the sea for laying eggs.

One official spoke about the river, before 1972 – that saw the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage – where hilsa provided a lucrative livelihood for fishermen in mid-stretch of the river, generating employment for thousands of fishermen from not just Bengal, but also Bihar and UP.

The fragmentation of the river has blocked the migration of the mature fisher, from sea to river for breeding and also the downstream igration of their progeny into the sea. Consequently, hilsa fishery upstream has collapsed.

Assessment of the production trends of hilsa from 1961 to 2013 in the middle stretch of the Ganga by Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) revealed a significant decline in the annual average production from 36 ton to 0.9 ton.

Findings by CIFRI reveal that during the period 1998-2012, the average catch of juvenile hilsa (2 to 20 gm) from the system was a staggering 85 ton per year.

Experts predict that saving even one per cent of these juveniles could enhance the hilsa production by 4000 ton per year.

Women from the Self-Help Groups in the Jangalmahal region would soon be initiated into cultivating Magur fish (catfish), which is a delicacy and hence, in high demand.

Under the initiative of the State Government, four hatcheries would be created for the purpose and to start with, women from the Self-Help Groups would be given magur hatchlings, according to the official sources here.

Within six to seven months, the hatchlings would grow big enough to be sold in markets, with each fish weighing 80 to 100 kg.

The fishes would be bought by the State Fisheries Development Corporation Limited of West Bengal, through which they would be released into the markets.

This initiative would lead to higher production of magur, which in turn would lead to lowering of prices, and generation of employment too in the Jangalmahal region.

Mystus gulio is a commercially important brackishwater catfish locally known as “nuna tengra”, which is an important small indigenous fish species (SIS) of the Sundarban delta.

It can tolerate a wide range of salinity and has high market demand with price ranging Rs 200-500 per kg.Due to overexploitation and environmental degradation, availability of seeds from nature has been decreased.In order to conserve the species, and promote scientific farming and diversified aquaculture,Kakdwip Research Centre (KRC) of ICAR-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) has developed a complete package comprising of homestead/ backyard hatchery technique and grow-out culture of this fish in brackish water system.

Breeding technology package of Mystus gulio in backyard hatchery system comprises of broodstock development, maturity assessment, induction of spawning, incubation and hatching of eggs, and larval rearing in brackishwater environment.

Total cost of production of a 30-day old seed is only Re. 0.30 and it hasa market selling price of Re 1, which is economically lucrative. Cost effective backyard hatchery operation requires less capital and less labour. The woman member of a family can easily manage these less cumbersome and easy activities.

A small farmer with a minimum operational cost of Rs 20000 can easily earn Rs 42000 in a breeding season of six months. Many rural people, small and marginal farmers may get employment through production and supply of seeds.

Availability of large number of hatchery produced seeds will reduce the dependence on natural resource, and thus will promote scientific farming of this species.

Kakdwip research centre of ICAR-CIBA also conducted a successful culture demonstration trial of this species in brackishwater pond for the first time with hatchery produced seeds.

For this trial, 35-day old hatchery produced seeds (40.15 mm/ 0.85 g) were stocked at 10 nos./m 2 and fed with nuna tengra feed developed by KRC of CIBA @8-5 per cent of biomass. In a 6-month of culture period, fish attained size of 40 to 60 g with the production of 1.5 to 2.0 ton/ha. Cost of production was around Rs. 80-90/ kg and it had a ready market of minimum Rs. 250-300/ kg, which is economically lucrative.