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Meghalaya State Plans to Use Rainwater to Harvest Fish

Environment Hatcheries Politics +3 more

INDIA - With demand for fish much higher than the supply, Meghalaya state is planning to use rainwater to breed popular edible species on a larger scale.

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TimesOfIndia reports that rainwater will be channelled into small ponds thereby creating inland fisheries.

"It's an irony that a state with such high precipitation should have an annual fish deficit of more than 15,000 metric ton," said chief minister Mukul Sangma, who recently announced that the state will launch the Meghalaya State Aquaculture Mission, to be implemented co-terminus with the 12th Five Year Plan, to make the state not just self-sufficient, but even acquire capability to export fish.

"It is my belief that the mission will not just address the deficit of freshwater fish, but it will also resolve several unemployment issues plaguing the rural areas of the state," he said.

The demand for fish in the predominantly fish-consuming state far outweighs the supply making it dependent on supplies from Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Assam. "Meghalaya, with its vast inland fish resources in form of rivers, reservoirs, lakes and ponds and an average rainfall of 1,200mm, offers tremendous scope for developing the fisheries sector, but lags behind in harnessing the potential of these natural resources," an official in the state fisheries department said.

"The state government has identified fisheries as a key sector and decided to assist the people to develop fish ponds," he said.

Interestingly, in Meghalaya, which recorded the highest population growth rate among all Indian States (2.5 per cent per annum) during 2001-11, per capita availability of fish had also declined. According to official data, the share of fisheries in total agricultural GSDP was only 1.15 per cent as against 5.2 per cent at the national level in 2010-11.

"Given the wide gap between demand and supply, the development of the sector is a priority for the state government," an official said. He added that there is an urgent need to expand the present 2,500 hectares of land under fish ponds in the state through judicious use of rainwater.