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Incentives to boost local aquaculture
Government wants to boost local freshwater fish production. Incentives for the sector were recently announced by Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj when he visited the Seafood Industry Development Company (SIDC). Maharaj said 135 tonnes of tilapia is consumed in this country annually but only about 22 tonnes are produced in the same period.
To boost production the ministry is offering tilapia feed at cost price to producers, the minister said. He added that the programme, which started last month, has already proved successful. Maharaj said T&T imports most of its tilapia fillets from China and to compete with that market, a fish processing facility is planned for the Carlsen Field area.
In a bid to boost public awareness abut the fish Maharaj said he spoke with officials of the Sugar Cane Feeds Centre at Longdenville to open its doors one week per month to sell tilapia to the public. Maharaj said 3000 cascadura fingerlings have been imported for integration into local stocks and fishing ponds at Bamboo Settlement in the Grand Bazzar area will be upgraded to serve as a fish hatcheries unit.
The minister also revealed that government is considering a review the fisheries bill which is closed to 100 years old and contains archaic clauses. On the issue of trawling, Maharaj said if it was up to him no industrial or semi-industrial trawling would be allowed since those activities destroy fish stock and have a negative environmental impact.Maharaj said elements within the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) were using the issue of the judicial complex at Carlsen Field to claim that farmers are being displaced.
He said seven farmers were affected and four of them have already accepted compensation and cashed their cheques, while the rest are in negotiations. Maharaj said the role of SIDC is not to print cookbooks, or offer sanitation advice. He said the agency must actively engage and develop the fisheries sector.