In a significant achievement in India’s mariculture sector, the researchers of the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has succeeded in captive breeding of golden trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus), a high value marine fish. Scientists at CMFRI’s Visakhapatnam Regional Centre achieved successful bloodstock development, captive breeding and larval rearing of the fish after five years of research.

The achievement is expected to open up a new avenue for sustainable seafood production and boost the country’s mariculture activities, including sea cage farming.

Golden trevally or golden king fish is an ideal candidate species for mariculture (marine aquaculture) due to its faster growth rates, good meat quality and huge market demand for both consumption and ornamental purposes. The farm-gate value of the fish is ₹400-500 per kg.

Ornamental variety

It is a reef-associated fish and lives in the company of larger fishes like skates, sharks, groupers etc. Interestingly, juveniles of this species act as pilots for sharks. It is a silver grey fish with yellowish colouration on the belly, with scattered black patches and all fins coloured yellow and a black tail. The juveniles are more golden in colour with the black bands giving them a very attractive look and hence a preference for aquarium keeping. As an ornamental variety, the fish is priced between ₹150-250 per piece.

A team of scientists at the Visakhapatnam Regional Centre of CMFRI led by Ritesh Ranjan, Senior Scientist, started the research efforts on seed production of this fish in 2019. “This is a significant milestone in Indian mariculture”, said A Gopalakrishnan, CMFRI Director. Golden trevally is an ideal candidate for sea farming due to its desirable qualities. Given the declining trend of its landings, the success in captive breeding of this fish has greater significance as it will offer opportunities for sustainable fish farming through mariculture practices including sea cage farming. The technology will also contribute to wild stock restoration efforts through the sea-ranching initiative,” he said.

In India, the fish landing observations show that the golden trevally are landed predominantly at reef area fishing grounds in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat. The total fish landings estimate for the last five years was 1,106, 1,626, 933, 327 and 375 tonnes, respectively.