Kochi: The growing need to meet shrimp broodstock (adult shrimp used for breeding) for aquaculture farms across the country has prompted government promotion body Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to develop pathogen-free shrimp at Port Blair in Andamans, the first such project in the country.
G. Mohankumar, MPEDA chairman, says shrimp exports from India, which account for over 50% of the export earnings of $1.8 billion (Rs7,200 crore), have at times been rejected as antibiotics were found in the consignments.
Of the shrimp exports of 1.37 lakh tonnes during the last fiscal, aquaculture had a share of over 75% and the rest was from wild catch. On the value front, the earnings accounted for 84% from aquaculture.
During the 1990s, the country faced a serious problem of white spot virus. The disease nearly wiped out 50% of the shrimp crop. It was in this backdrop that the authority decided to look at developing pathogen-free broodstock. Since the waters off Andamans are considered to be the best bio-secure zone, it was decided to have the broodstock initiative in Andamans.
The Rs20 crore project, spread over five years, for domesticating the shrimp variety of black tiger caught from the wild was started in May 2005.
The samples collected were tested for various diseases and ultimately 11 of 16 pairs were found healthy. They were reared in separate tanks where temperature and light was modified to suit the sea conditions. Through selective breeding and testing of the progeny, the process has reached the stage of maturation of the second generation families of shrimp reared in captivity.
The lineage of each crustacean is maintained and there are eight second generation families now and by the end of 2009 the third generation will be ready.
The breeding is being done under the most scientific conditions. Every detail of a shrimp, even a day old is, maintained and its history can be traced back to its ‘parents’ or ‘grandparents’. The stock is counter-checked in consultation with the Hawaii-based Aquatic Farms Ltd.
“And by end of 2009, hopefully, we should be able to supply pathogen-free broodstock to the aquaculture farmers who in turn can use them in their farms. The target is around 10,000 broodstock,” says Mohankumar.
Meanwhile, as India fights anti-dumping duty imposed on shrimp exports to the US, another trade barrier appears to have been raised.
The US-based Earth Island Institute has informed traders’ body Seafood Exporters Association of India that it will have to follow the ‘international dolphin safe standards for tuna fishing’.
A note received recently says: “Earth Island Institute will arrange for an international monitor to come to Kochi and inspect all operations, including all procurement and production documents, vessels, ports, storage, processing and canning facilities to see if they were as per policy provisions.”
These inspections were part of the certification process.
The standards fixed include no intentional chasing, netting or encirclement of dolphins during tuna fishing trips, no use of drift gillnets to catch tuna, no accidental killing or serious injury to any dolphins during net sets.