Aquaculture can be an alternative to boost fish production in Goa and can also make underprivileged traditional fishermen self-sufficient, said officials from the department of fisheries, who are successfully carrying out sea cage fish breeding in the open seas off Polem, Canacona. Launched under the central government’s Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, the initiative took its first steps in 2013 in the form of a pilot project. Fish cages were allotted to traditional fishermen who were trained in the protected breeding of fish species. Now in its third year, the activity has proved to be a great fishing method for fishermen in Goa, said superintendent of fisheries Smita Mazumdar. “There is a depletion of fish in the waters. Fishermen who don’t have employment can take up this aquaculture project and become self-sufficient,” she said. With 20 cages spread across the water off Polem, the system involves cultivation of fertilized chonak and modso eggs. The fish are allowed to grow for a period of seven to eight months before being harvested. Constant monitoring of the fish and the water’s temperature and salinity, and timely intervention of the Central marine fisheries Research institute, Karwar, helps keep the cage cultivation activity healthy. But, challenges are also rife in an initiative like this. Department officials said the spread of waterborne diseases poses the risk of fish succumbing to diseases. Such an instance had recently occurred at Polem. “We immediately alerted the CMFRI, after which experts identified the disease and begun remedial measures. The fish gradually recovered, ” officials said. Fish from five of the 20 cages, which were cultivated in October 2015, have now been harvested and have generated one tonne of fish. The harvest is likely to be completed by the end of the month before the monsoon hits the state. “After cultivating high value-fish like chonak and modso, we now intend to start cultivating the more affordable milkfish (chanos) next year,” said fisheries director Shamila Monteiro.

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