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As Goa seeks to raise fish production, sea cage farming is the new hope



Panaji, Nov 6 With the Central and state government fostering cage fishing in the sea, Goan fishermen have started to opt for the scheme to save the coastal state from fish famine.

Sheldon Fernandes, an MBA from Candolim in North Goa, has become the first entrepreneur in the state to start an open sea cage farm under Goa State Mariculture Policy.

Fernandes said that he ventured into this new format to get experience and grow into it. “This is the first time that I am doing fish farming. For this, I have studied and taken training on the whole process. This encouraged me to take up this task and achieve success,” he said.

“At present, we have five cages. I got full support from the Central and state government by subsidies. This has helped us to venture into this business

.”Fernandes said that his family was in traditional fishing and they are handling cage farming for the very first time. “We want to try this whole system, because unless, we try it, we won’t get knowledge of it,” he said.

The cage frames, made of galvanised iron, have a diameter of 6 metres and fishes are cultured inside a net with depth of 5 metre tied to the cage frame.

“These cages are floated into the sea and fully netted, so fish from outside do not come in and fish which are growing inside the cage will not go out,” Fernandes said.

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Karwar has been integrated in the said project.

Seeing the huge potential in mariculture activity, Goa became the first state in India to notify a policy to augment fish production through fish culture in cages.

It is trying to encourage more youth to get into this business, which would help the state and people of Goa to get fresh fish.

Goa Fisheries Minister Nilkanth Halarnkar had urged the youths to enter it and become self-reliant.

He had earlier said the Central government has sanctioned Rs 400 crore for setting up cage fishing infrastructure to boost the coastal state’s catch of fish.

Though 2,475 boats and 897 trawlers are registered with the Fisheries Department for fishing activities, fish in Goa is also brought from Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra also. This is to meet demand from the people of the state and by the eight million plus tourists who visit Goa every year.

Fearing that a fish famine could pose a serious threat to the availability of the staple food of the coastal state, the Goa government, apart from notifying the “Goa State Mariculture Policy 2020” to carry out open sea cage fish culture, has also urged the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to suggest adoption of modern methods for production of fish.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged the scientists and students of the NIO to suggest ways to increase fish productivity by adopting modern methods.

The NIO has played a vital role in increasing the production of green mussels in Goa, by training stakeholders.