Kochi: Going beyond shrimp, tuna, squid and cuttlefish, government trade promotion body Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) has started focusing on ornamental fish that find a place in aquariums in homes. The project, awaiting government approval, anticipates an investment of around Rs18 crore.
According to the plans, nearly 7,200 ornamental fish breeding units are being planned across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
If the scheme is successful, MPEDA will spawn 500 million of these fish by 2012.
While 200 million fish are planned to be allocated for domestic fish-keeping in aquariums at homes, schools, offices and tourist destinations, 300 million are expected to find their way to aquariums abroad and earn an estimated export revenue of Rs216 crore.
Further, the initiative could directly employ at least 32,000 people, besides creating indirect jobs for those involved in manufacturing aquarium products, such as glass and plastic water filters, MPEDA director Kuruvilla Thomas said.
The fish breeding centres have been classified into three categories for the initiative.
While around 6,000 small units will employ a minimum of three people each, 1,000 medium units would provide jobs to at least 10 people each, while each of the 167 large units will employ 15 people.
Thomas says the authority plans to involve people with post-graduate degrees in zoology to start operation of these units for which half the investment will come as a grant from MPEDA.
While a small unit will require an investment of Rs1.5 lakh, the medium one would need Rs6 lakh and Rs15 lakh would be needed for a large unit.
Guppi, goldfish, platy, angel, gourami, molly, tangerine, swordtail and other ornamental fish will be bred in these units and distributed among households wishing to keep them in aquariums.
Demand for these ornamental fish mostly come from Europe, Japan, Singapore and the US.
The authority hopes to help entrepreneurs in the business of exporting such fish, Thomas added. “We essentially are looking at both the employment potential as well as export earnings,” the MPEDA chief said.