Kochi | In a groundbreaking initiative, the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has undertaken a pioneering effort to develop lab-grown fish meat, marking a significant first in India.
The project aims to propel India forward in the realm of cultured marine fish meat, with the goal of meeting the increasing demand for seafood while alleviating the excessive strain on wild resources, an official release said here on Monday.
In the release, the CMFRI said cultivated fish meat or lab grown fish meat is produced by isolating specific cells from the fish and growing them in the laboratory setting using animal component free media.
The final product will replicate the original flavour, texture and nutritional qualities of the fish, it said.
In the initial phase, the institute focuses on developing cell-based meat of high value marine fishes such as king fish, pomfret and seer fish.
In line with this, the CMFRI has entered into a collaborative research agreement with Neat Meatt Biotech, a start-up working towards developing cultivated meat, to launch this initiative in a public-private partnership mode.
CMFRI Director A Gopalakrishnan and Co-founder and CEO of the Neat Meatt Biotech Sandeep Sharma signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding this, it said.
According to the MoU, CMFRI will carry out research on early cell line development of high value marine fish species.
This involves isolating and cultivating fish cells for further research and development.
Additionally, CMFRI will handle genetic, biochemical, and analytical work related to the project.
The institute is equipped with a cell culture laboratory with basic facilities, providing a solid foundation for research in cellular biology, it said.
Neat Meatt, with its expertise in cell culture technology, will lead the optimization of cell growth media, development of scaffolds or microcarriers for cell attachment, and scaling up production through bioreactors.
They will also provide necessary consumables, manpower, and any additional equipment needed for the project.
"This project aims to accelerate development in this field, ensuring India is not left behind in this emerging industry," Gopalakrishnan said.
He said this public-private partnership marks a crucial step in bridging the gap between India and other nations like Singapore, Israel, and the US, who are already advancing cultured seafood research.
"Lab-grown fish offers immense potential for environmental and food security benefits, and this collaboration leverages CMFRI's marine research expertise with Neat Meatt's technological know-how in this field, paving the way for a sustainable and secure future for seafood production in India", Gopalakrishnan said.
Sharma expressed confidence that the proof of concept of the project could be established within a couple of months.