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Odisha Fisheries Minister Arun Sahoo said the government was trying to increase fish production in the state.

He said the state produced 2.60 lakh MT of fish in 2019-20, while it was 8.73 lakh MT during the last financial year.

"... we are planning to augment the fish production in the state," the minister said.

Sahoo said to augment fish production in Hirakud reservoir the state government has undertaken cage fish culture in the reservoir.

The Fisheries minister visited the Hirakud Dam on Friday to review cage fish farming in the reservoir.

"Cage culture is being undertaken in the Hirakud Dam reservoir. The progress of the work, besides the new possibilities, was reviewed," the minister said.

He added that cage culture programme was going in a proper way at the Hirakud reservoir.

In the process, fishes are cultured from cages, which are generally enclosed on all sides by nets, except for leaving an opening at the top for feeding and handling the stock.

Sahoo said the state produced 2.60 lakh MT of fish in 2019-20, while it was 8.73 lakh MT during the last financial year.

According to official sources, a policy decision was taken last year under the initiative to give one per cent of the water area of the four big reservoirs, including the Hirakud , besides as many medium reservoirs of the state for cage fish farming.

In the first phase, 0.1 per cent of the water area at Hirakud has been opened for lease, but 15,000 cages could be installed at the reservoir if the proposed one per cent area could be given on lease.

The Fisheries Department started cage fish farming in Hirakud Dam Reservoir in 2013 by installing 28 cages. Later, 50 more cages were installed in the reservoir in 2019.

Around 2 lakh MT of fish could be produced from the cage fish farming in the state. Hence, the government now wants to encourage cage fish farming.

An official said 90 per cent of the population of the state eat fish in their regular diet.

Moreover, two species -- tilapia and Pangasius -- could be produced in cage culture, which have export potential. Tilapia is high on demand in the US, Europe and Southeast Asian countries, he said.

Sahoo said that the state government was also laying thrust on early breeding.

A target has been set to produce 30 crore fingerlings from early breeding and 20 crore fingerlings from normal breeding in the fish seed hatchery centre at Chiplima in Sambalpur district, he added.

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