BHUBANESWAR: Buoyed by the growth in production and demand in recent years, Odisha Government has set an ambitious target of annual seafood exports at Rs 20,000 crore in next five years.
During 2014-15, the State exported a total of 34,767 metric tonne of marine products worth Rs 2,069 crore which is a 450 per cent jump over the exports of Rs 379 crore recorded in 2000-01.
This was revealed at a workshop on 'Seafood Export: Prospects and Challenges,' organised by Fisheries and Animal Resource Department (FARD), which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Friday.
The workshop focused on rapidly growing fisheries sector in the State and huge scope for seafood export. Since the State's economy is on a growth trajectory, the scope for increasing seafood exports appears to be very bright in the coming years.
Commissioner-cum-Secretary Bishnupada Sethi said the State with its 24,000 sq km area within the continental shelf has ample potential for marine fisheries development.
Freshwater resources of the State are estimated at 6.76 lakh hectare (ha) while brackish water resources cover 4.18 lakh ha including 0.79 lakh ha of Chilika lake and 2.98 lakh ha estuaries among others.
Sethi said the State has 24,031 ha suitable brackish water Government land which can be utilised for culture of L Vannamei or the white-legged shrimp which is high in demand in the export market.
The Government plans to provide suitable land for brackish water aquaculture to beneficiaries of anti-poverty programmes who are eligible for up to five ha land. Besides, private farms, technical entrepreneurs, State-owned corporations and exporters are entitled up to 10 ha and more.
By harnessing brackish water resources through leasing, the department plans to enhance shrimp production to three lakh metric tonne in next five years.
To meet the increased production, infrastructure is also being augmented. The department has entered into a technical collaboration with WorldFish to adopt best management practices for increasing productivity in the existing water bodies.
The target is to double fish production in next five years. To achieve this goal, the State Government is recruiting more manpower. At least 123 posts of assistant fisheries officers and 112 posts of junior fisheries technical assistants have already been filled up.
On the occasion, the CM also launched a financial assistance scheme for coastal fishermen under which those losing livelihood during the fishing ban periods will be provided cash compensation.
The scheme, 'Livelihood Support to Marine Fishermen During Fishing Ban Periods,' will be operational from the current year. Two thousand BPL families will be selected from Olive Ridley turtle conservation area by the department. The affected fishermen will be entitled to a compensation of Rs 5000 per year.
Sethi said the Government may extend the scheme for another four years after assessing its success.