Cage fish farming launched in major reservoirs of Kerala

Improved and indigenous varieties of fish to be produced at Banasura Sagar, Karapuzha, Peruvannamuzhi and Kakki

The Aquaculture Development Agency Kerala (ADAK) has begun fish seed stocking in three of the four reservoirs in Kerala, where it has been permitted to launch cage fish culture.

The launch of cage culture in reservoirs is a big step towards improving fish production against the backdrop of dwindling wild catch and marks a new beginning in the exploitation of the vast area available for aquaculture in the State, said ADAK managing director Dinesan Cheruvat on Sunday.

The aquaculture agency was granted permission by the Water Resources Department, Kerala State Electricity Board, and the Forest Department to launch cage culture in Banasura Sagar and Karapuzha reservoirs in Wayanad district, Peruvannamuzhi in Kozhikode district, and Kakki in Pathanamthitta district. Seed stocking has begun in the first three reservoirs, and cages are being installed at Kakki.

While Banasura Sagar, Karapuzha and Peruvannamuzhi reservoirs will see cage culture of improved variety of tilapia, Kakki reservoir will see culture of indigenous varieties of pearl spot (Karimeen) and anabas (Kaithakkora).

The ADAK official said there was huge demand for fresh fish, and marketing arrangements were being made to ensure that farmers under SC-ST Reservoir Fisheries Societies got a good price for the produce.

There will be over 100 cages per reservoir, with each expected to produce a tonne of fish. The cages measure 6x4x4, totalling 96 cubic metres, and can stock between 3,000 and 4,000 fingerlings each.

Tilapia can be harvested for sale within six months. It will take around 10 months for pearl spot and anabas to be harvested. The equation works out well considering the current prices of fish. While tilapia sells at around ₹200 a kg, pearl spots and anabas sell at between ₹300 and ₹400.

The launch of aquaculture in reservoirs will augment income for hundreds of families, and the venture is backed by the Prime Minister’s Matsya Sampada Yojana with an investment of ₹16 crore, Mr. Cheruvat said.

He added that aquaculture was the fastest growing segment in the primary sector and holds out great promise for the future, especially against the backdrop of waterbodies remaining underutilised. “Reservoir aquaculture is considered a sleeping giant”, and reservoir fisheries have immense potential. There are a total of 47 reservoirs in the State which can be utilised for aquaculture. They can be fields where 50,000 tonnes of fish can be produced a year and backwaters, where the potential for fish production is huge,” he added.

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