Thiruvananthapuram | Union Fisheries Minister Parshottam Rupala on Thursday outlined a comprehensive plan, which includes expanding cage fish farming operations and scaling up pearl oyster production, to boost the mariculture sector of the country.
The Union Minister, who is visiting Kerala before beginning the 8th phase of the Sagar Parikrama Yatra from Kanyakumari, said that the immediate focus would be on expanding cage fish farming to offshore waters using bigger and better cages.
Rupala, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Dr L Murugan and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, outlined his ministry's plans during his visit to the Vizhinjam Regional Centre of the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
He said that bigger and better cages of 30 diameter or above would be used for offshore cage fish farming as they can accommodate lakhs of juvenile fish.
Currently, cage farming is undertaken in nearshore waters using the 6-diameter cages, he noted.
The minister further said that CMFRI should spearhead research and development efforts in creating these advanced cages.
"This is expected to significantly boost mariculture production in the country," the minister is quoted as having said according to a release issued by CMFRI.
Mariculture is the cultivation, management, and harvesting of marine organisms in their natural environment.
The minister also urged the CMFRI to expand seed production technologies for fin fishes to all the coastal states utilising the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode.
Rupala said this would help address the seed constraints and make available the required seeds to the fish farmers all over the country.
He indicated that the central government would soon come up with a Mariculture Leasing Policy to ensure the sustainable use of mariculture resources.
"This will ensure that mariculture operations are located in suitable areas and they do not cause environmental damage," he said.
The minister also underscored the untapped potential of pearl oyster production and asked CMFRI to take a proactive role in scaling up its production in a bigger way.
Highlighting the critical role played by hatchery technologies in supporting large-scale pearl oyster production, he emphasized on the necessity of research and innovation in this area.
Rupala also proposed a pioneering sea ranching programme for the hatchery-produced spats of the pearl oyster along the Tuticorin coast, which would be executed under the guidance of the CMFRI.
"Traditionally known as 'Pearl City' on account of the prevailing pearl fisheries in the past in the area, Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) has a fascinating history which was an international cynosure in the days of yore for its pearl fishery," the release said.
Referring to the high prospects of marine ornamental fishery, the Union Minister also suggested that effective marketing avenues be developed for marine ornamentals.
He urged the CMFRI to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to establish effective marketing strategies, saying that it would provide an economic boost to the marine ornamental industry