SHILLONG: Meghalaya government is working out on the State fisheries policy, a plan to ensure the success of the seven-year-old Meghalaya State Aqua Mission (MSAM).
Notwistanding the state’s annual demand of 30,000 metric tonnes of fishes, the 25000 fish ponds spread across the state barely meet the demands. These ponds also included those being owned by the fish farmers who have received all the financial benefits from the government as per its objective to upgrade fish production and guarantee self sustenance.
With barely an annual output of 7000 metric tonnes, the deficit is apparent. The talk doing the rounds is that the beneficiaries, particularly in Khasi Jaintia hills, are not using the grant for hatchery or to feed the local market because they use their respective ponds for gambling by holding fishing competitions. The Fishery officer Meda Khongjliew conceded to the fact but expressed, “They could have been our beneficiaries but we have no control over the ponds because of the traditional and private land holdings over the ponds in the state.” Along with the Director of Fisheries Department, I Mawlong, the fishery officer elucidated further on why gambling in these ponds could not be stopped. “They might say that it is for “U fishing” a term to earn livelihood from their private tilted ponds because there is no bar on that”, stated Khongjliew.
So far, the MSAM has been extending the scientific expertise to the fish farmers to live up to the purpose. There are at least two monitoring multiple services providers in every block development office to aid the fish farmers in the state. Amid the shortfall of fishes supply into the state after the interim ban due to detection of formalin on imported fishes, insinuations going on is, can these ponds feed the local populace? The answer is a “big no”, even as local fish farmers started to venture into the market in the past one month. Asked on this, the Fishery officer said, “It’s not shocking because they realized the market and they are channelizing themselves to many points of the city.”
Going by the official data, there are already 25000 fishing ponds and another 7000 are on the verge of starting the venture based on the loans and subsidy related activities. The Meghalaya Fisheries Act has drawn conjecture from the Assam Fisheries Act to polish and complete the policy.