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Fishermen plea to govt

Patna: The Bihar Co-operative Fisheries Federation on Tuesday pressed for a comprehensive roadmap to boost fish production, maintaining that the sector remained under-developed in the state.

During a programme on National Fishermen's Day in the state capital, the federation criticised the government over annual fish production in Bihar, which the federation said has been falling from 2015 to 2017.

Rishikesh Kashyap, managing director of the federation, said that Bihar's annual demand of fish is nearly 6 lakh metric tonnes whereas the total production has not exceeded 5 lakh metric tonnes. This leads to Bihar importing fish from other states - predominantly Andhra Pradesh - worth over Rs 2,000 crore.

He said: "Instead of strengthening the state's own fishing industry, the government resorted to importing fish in order to meet local demand. Therefore, due to lack of political will, the sector remained under-developed and resulted in below-par fish production in the state. However, there is huge potential in Bihar's fishing industry in terms of revenue generation and employment creation."

According to official estimates, Bihar's per capita annual fish consumption is 7.7 kg, while the national average is 10 kg. Chief minister Nitish Kumar had said in August 2017 that the government would boost local fish production so that Bihar becomes a fish surplus state by 2020.

Rishikesh appealed to formulate a dedicated policy for fisheries development, which is currently included in the agricultural roadmap. "The fishermen community also faces technical hurdles as they not able to avail of new technological equipments due to absence of any subsidy from the Bihar government," he said.

The federation said its major demands are inclusion of fisheries in the Centre and the state's disaster relief fund, and long-term settlement of ponds, and fish insurance on the lines of crop insurance.

According to the federation's estimates, over one crore people are engaged in fishing for livelihood in Bihar.

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