Sonowal advocates aggressive business policy for fishery sector

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, March 5: Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal advocated an aggressive business policy for multiplying fish production and creating more job opportunities for the youth in the fishery sector of the state. While chairing a review meeting of the fishery department at the conference room of his office at Janata Bhawan on Monday, Sonowal also directed the department to amend the ‘Assam Fishery Rules, 1953’ with adequate clauses to root out monopoly in the sector. He also asked the department to bring suitable legislation to upgrade the department into an administrative department to exclusively deal with its revenue matters.

“Fish farming has tremendous potential in Assam. An aggressive business policy coupled with scientific research for augmenting fish farming will help in branding Assam fish to tap the national and international market. Such an environment would also draw talented youth of the state into this profession and double farmers’ income,” Sonowal observed.

Stating that traditional method of fish farming in Assam needs scientific support to cope with the rising demand of fish in the market, he directed the department to conduct research in the field to identify habitation requirements to suit the needs of different types of fishes found in the state. Sonowal also suggested measures like boosting fingerling stocking in natural water bodies and experiment on cage fishing in natural water channels for enhanced fish production.

Underscoring the urgent need to end monopoly in the business and plug loopholes in revenue collection, the chief minister asked the department to incorporate new clauses such as production promotion activities for the lessees and upgrading the department into an administrative department.

Moreover, suggesting steps to control malpractice by the lessees and monitoring fish farming activities, he directed the department to carry out physical survey of all its properties and promote new entrepreneurs with modern marketing strategies.

Sonowal also asked the department to engage fishery guards to monitor fishery activities and introducing uniform for the field level functionaries to add a distinct identity to the department.

Further, the chief minister also emphasised on branding Assam fish banking on its quality and variants and asked the department to glamorise the trade by adopting appropriate promotion policy. Steps like organising fish festival to showcase the varieties of fishes of the state and awarding best fish farmers were also suggested by the chief minister to encourage competitiveness amongst fish farmers of the state.

The officials of the fishery department informed the chief minister that a Gene Bank Project for conservation of indigenous endangered fish species have been mooted with the objective to conserve endangered local variety of fishes like ‘puthi’, ‘kholihana’, ‘eleng’, ‘pabha’, ‘darikana’ etc. with technical support from Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat and Assam Fishery College, Raha. The project also aims at developing breeding techniques of fish species and conduct mass awareness programmes on conservation, the officials informed. The officials also apprised the chief minister about the challenges faced by the department and the strategies developed to overcome the same.

State fishery minister Parimal Suklabaidya, chief minister’s media adviser Hrishikesh Goswami, legal adviser Santanu Bharali, additional chief secretary of fishery department MC Johri, chief minister’s principal secretary Sanjay Lohia, secretary of fishery department Rakesh Kumar and other senior officials of the fishery department were present in the review meeting.

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