VIJAYAWADA: To control conversion of agricultural land into aqua ponds, and reduce use of antibiotics in hatcheries, Andhra Pradesh government is thinking of introducing aqua zones. The task force set up by the state government to streamline the fisheries sector has come up with various recommendations including aqua zones and closure of unauthorised shrimp hatcheries.
Introduction of zones will mean there will be streamlining of the industry. A task force member said , “We know that fisheries business is highly risky, and earns lot of benefits. Some kind of streamlining is required here, hence we have come up with this proposal. AP is a major state in aquaculture, and introduction of aqua zones will be a first in the country.”
After a rise in rejection of aqua exports in European countries, the state government set up a task force committee to recommend various measures for the industry.
The committee further recommended that the state government has to conduct regular inspections, and impose stringent punishment/penalties on hatcheries/larval rearing centres, which are avoiding set protocols. It also said that all the medicines should be antibiotic free. As there are no product specifications on the labels of medicines, and they are used to control certain problems in shrimp farming, the government conducted raids on manufactures and aqua shops. The committee also suggested that shrimp collected from poly-culture tanks should be exported separately.
Pre-harvest test (PHT) from ponds must be made mandatory, and the government should see all the farmers are covered under this programme, the committee said.
The committee also sought strengthening of existing aqua labs. There should be state-level aquaculture authority. Since the Fisheries sector contributes major portion of the gross value added (GVA) of the state, the committee suggested that separate comprehensive fisheries and aquaculture regulation act be passed, and setting up of aqua, culture development council. Currently, there is a fisheries policy in place. The state government is mulling fish and shrimp processing units. It also said that fisheries department must be given sufficient manpower to deal with all problems.
Officials in nine coastal districts are now engaged in taking up a surveillance programme in the identified 181 aqua clusters, covering 1,248 villages to identify various diseases in shrimp/fish. Various studies are also being taken up on physio-chemical parameters from the prioritised creeks/drains in nine coastal districts on a monthly basis, throughout the year. They are being conducted at survey points in each creek/ drain, duly geo-tagging the survey points district-wise under the supervision of the State Institute of Fisheries Technology (SIFT) faculty.
The state government has planned to expand the area of production, fish seed stocking in potential inland water bodies, establishment of fresh water fish brook banks, promotion of deep sea fisheries, and promotion of alternate species in aquaculture. The government has set out a target of achieving 42 lakh tonnes of fish production, with an estimated GVA of Rs 80,000 crore by 2019.
Courtesy: The Times of India