Sonepur: Once considered a surplus district in fish production, Subarnapur has lost its position with the traders of Andhra Pradesh taking over the fish markets of the district.
It was alleged the fisheries policy adopted by the government to boost fish farming and its export is not being executed properly in the district.
Earlier, the district was famous for its freshwater fish and prawn production. The fish of Mahanadi and Tel river in particular was in great demand. While the changing scenario and water pollution have adversely affected the fish catch, the administration failed to develop water bodies in various panchayats for fish farming.
According to reports, thousands of fishermen families eke out a living by fishing in Mahanadi, Tel, Ang and Suktel rivers. These rivers have covered a length of 168 km in the district. This apart, the district has 3,779 community tanks, 102 ponds, 572 private ponds and Hariharjor, a major reservoir. There are plenty of possibilities in the district to increase the fish production and its export. Tapping these opportunities would not only boost employment, it would go a long way in salvaging the district’s economy, said the experts.
However, the department has no such plan to cash in on the scopes. Most of the water bodies under the panchyatiraj department are lying unused with the growth of weeds.
On the other hand, rampant blasting and use of pesticide are going on unabated in Mahanadi over last few years by dishonest fish traders. Some breeds of fish have vanished due to use of chemicals in river water. This has put the livelihood of hundreds of small fishermen families at stake. They return empty handed from the river.
The administration doesn’t pay heed to their demand for banning illegal blast and use of pesticide in river for fishing, fishermen living on the Mahanadi riverbanks said.
Large scale pollution would soon make Mahanadi fish-less, feared the environmentalists.
According to World Health Organisation reports, a healthy human being needs 20 kg of fish per year. Therefore, people of Subarnapur district require about 12,200 tonnes of fish every year. However, the district produces fish something between 7,000 and 8,000 tonnes a year, official sources said, adding, the deficit is maintained by the fish supplied by the traders of Andhra Pradesh.
When contacted, district fishery officer Pradip Kumar Dey acknowledged the adverse effect of fishing by blasting. The department is taking measures to encourage pisciculture in the district, he said. PNN