India needs to ramp up the profile of its blue economy by unlocking the potential of ornamental fishery — now poised as a flourishing US$18-20 billion industry globally — and giving a more competitive edge to its aquaculture farming to sustain buoyancy in the sector, a high-profile conference was told here today.
While aquaculture, with an export value of over five billion US dollars, has been the mainstay of India’s marine products, ornamental fishery, including accessories and fish feed, can also become a hotspot for the country due to its tremendous economic opportunities and prospects, ministers, administrators and experts in the marine sector said at the fourth edition of Aqua Aquaria India (AAI), a biennial showpiece event in Asia on the aquaculture and ornamental fishery sectors.
Karnataka Minister for Fisheries Pramod Madhwaraj, while inaugurating the May 14-16 event at Nehru Maidan organized by the Marine Products Export Development Agency (MPEDA), said aquaculture has been making exponential growth since 2009-10 with a projected export figure of US $ 5.6 billion in 2016-17.
“India can ambitiously target foreign exchange earnings of 10 billion US dollar by 2020,” he added.
The satellite imaging technology using GIS applications and mobile apps for real time monitoring have been introduced in aquaculture sector for better performance, he said, adding that the AAI 2017 would help the farming community to identify such priority areas and work towards future. Cultured shrimp now contributes over 70 per cent in terms of quantity, about 80 per cent in terms of export value and over 53 per cent in terms of value of seafood exports.
“This is a significant achievement for India’s aquaculture sector,” he noted.
Selection of overseas suppliers of vannamei brood stock according to a strict selection procedure, permitting imports of brood stocks to only approved hatcheries, mandatory quarantining of all imported brood stock in a single Aquatic Quarantine Facility in Chennai, having in place a national disease surveillance program and periodic inspection of hatcheries and farms, can ensure sustainable vannamei culture development.
Madhwaraj said this is for the first time that the AAI was being organized in the country’s west coast. “India’s west coast, comprising states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, also offer huge potential for aquaculture that needs to be tapped with ecological safeguards .”
The minister informed that the Karnataka government was in the process of formulating a new inland policy for a fast development of aquaculture and ornamental fishery. “The state government will extend all necessary cooperation to ensure that sustainable progress is made towards the development of coastal shrimp farming in Karnataka, under rapid action plan,” he said.
In his keynote address, Nalin Kumar Kateel, the MP from Mangalore, said this was for the first time that the AAI was being held in Karnataka and in the country’s west coast. More such events should be held for the benefit of farmers of aquaculture and ornamental fishes as well as for general public and students, he added.
Dr. K Hari Babu, MP said aquaculture is not limited to coastal areas as it is making big strides in landlocked states like Haryana. “I would suggest that the MPEDA hold its next event in Haryana,” he noted. “We also need to ensure that our farmers do not use antibiotics in seafood production which would otherwise affect exports,” he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, MPEDA Chairman Dr. A. Jayathilak said AAI provides a platform for showcasing the latest technological interventions in both aquaculture and ornamental fish culture.
“The coastal shrimp aquaculture production has surged and crossed 5 lakh tons during the last couple of years because of combined efforts of various stakeholders like hatchery operators, feed manufacturers, input suppliers and processors,” he added.
Dr. Jayathilak said the growth in India’s aquaculture sector has come from the production of L. vannamei, which is linked to the flawless operation of the aquatic quarantine facility in Chennai, ensuring the availability of pathogen-free brood stock to the hatcheries.
J R Lobo, MLA from Mangalore, was among those who spoke on the occasion. B. Shreekumar, MPEDA Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.
During the next two days, the brainstorming meet will deliberate on a raft of challenges and prospects and hammer out a roadmap that would give a fillip to the resurgent seafood industry.
The AAI 2017 is being attended by a large number of farmers, hatchery operators, feed manufacturers, input suppliers, manufacturers and suppliers of various aquaculture and aquarium implements as well as leading technical experts and scientists from around the world. On the occasion, the souvenir and catalogue of the event were released.
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