FISH FARMING PRACTICES IN INDIA
Fishing is a major industry in coastal parts of India especially providing employment to millions. India has about 8129 kms of coastline, 3827 fishing villages, and about 2000 fish landing centers. India also has minor and major river reservoirs that produce fresh water fish. This provides sustainable income as well. Fish is considered healthy, protein rich and has low cholesterol and calories.
Aquaculture / farm fishing has taken off in a big way and gained importance over the years. About 60% Indians enjoy eating fish and hence the demand for fish is ever rising. One of the ways to meet the demands is by cultivating fish farms which involves inland fresh water fish farming. Commercial fish farming is a productive business as there is adequate demand and the climate is suitable too for farming. Farming fish can also be done as a part of integrated fish farming including birds, animals and crops to reduce feeding costs and enhance production.
To start a commercial farming business, a pond is the essential requirement. There are many varieties of fish available in the water resources. Fish can be raised in seasonal and permanent ponds depending on the breed. The pond must be clean, fertilized, have the right pH value and soil type to begin with the farming process. Fish breeds that can be grown in ponds are Rohu, Grass carp, common carp, Tilapia, Catfish etc can easily be grown in ponds. Polyculture activities ensure optimum utilization of resources. Polyculture involves growing two or more fish varieties in the same pond. Fish must be fed and protected from predators.
Carp farming has been practiced for a long time in India with various culture systems being adopted. Some of these include intensive pond culture, composite carp culture, weed based carp polyculture, integrated fish farming with poultry, pigs, ducks, horticulture, pen culture, cage culture, and running water fish culture. Fresh water aquaculture accounts for 55% of the total fish production in India. Aquaculture requires 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks, 1.07 million hectares of derelict waters, 0.12 million kilometers of canals, 3.15 million hectares of reservoirs and 0.72 million hectares of upland lakes. Ponds and tanks are the prime resources for freshwater aquaculture in India. However, less than 10% is used for aquaculture currently. Utilization of untapped inland waters through CBF is one of the foremost strategies for achieving blue revolution. CBF is generally practiced in inland waters having areas between 100 and 1000 ha.
About 1.2 million hectares of potential brackish water area available in India is suitable for farming. About 8.5 million hectares of salt affected areas are also available for aquaculture practices. But the total brackish water area under cultivation is only just over 13% of the potential water area available.
There are 5 main fishing harbors in India, namely Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Vizag, and Raichak. In addition, there are 23 minor fishing harbors and 95 fish landing centers designated to provide landing and berthing facilities to fishing craft. The major fish producing states in India are West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
Before starting the farming process, ensure you have done adequate research as fish farming is not as easy as the other methods of farming. It requires intensive labor and patience and time. Firstly choose the right land, farm, pond or tank to begin the process of breeding and maintaining fish. Choose the right breed / variety based on the region, climatic condition and your own requirements. Fish farming is usually carried out near lakes, rivers, streams or natural sources of water. Commercial fish farming is done in coastal areas or fresh water fish farming is done in natural reservoirs. Avoid farming too close to crop fields as pesticides contamination may become a huge problem for the fish and they will simply die.
Design the fish pond correctly with help if required and ensure it is clean. Fertilize the pond to remove any existing insects and test the pH value of the fish soil and water. Ideal pH value is between 7 – 8. Contact your nearest fishery institute for help with the beginning process such as construction of the fish pond / tank and acquiring the right kind of variety. You can choose from any of the varieties of fish mentioned above. In commercial fish farming, feeding plays a major role. Always use fresh, nutritious and high-quality food for fish. You can also add some nutrient in complementary fish food like as vitamins, minerals, and salt etc. All the fish species feed many times a day.
Change the water of fish pond regularly as fish die in dirty and contaminated water. Remove diseases from the fish pond by applying some salt, potassium permanganate solution, and chemicals etc. Harvesting fish depends on the species. Usually fishermen use nets for capturing the fish and then these are stored under ideal conditions and sold to the nearby markets.
Benefits of Fish Farming
- High market value of fish and fish products and its demand is increasing rapidly
- Profits can be achieved in short time because fish are fastest growing foods in the world.
- Fish farming provides employment to millions of laborers.
- Subsidy and Loans services are available for practicing fish farming
- There are no any degree or education qualifications are required for a commercial fish farming business
- India’s climatic conditions are ideal for fish farming and fish manufacture.
- Integrated practices such as animals, birds, crops, and vegetables can be carried out simultaneously