Aimed at empowering the coastal population through additional livelihood options, the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has chalked out plans to boost mariculture activities across the coastal States in the country.

Announcing the plan at the launch of a 21-day ‘Winter School’ on mariculture for researchers and academicians at the CMFRI, Director A Gopalakrishnan said CMFRI has identified and geo-referenced 146 potential sites for sea cage farming within 10 km in the sea from the coast along the Indian coastal line, with a production potential of 2.13 million tonnes per year. In these, four sites from Kerala are in an area of nearly 1300 hectare. Earlier, the institute had identified 342 potential sites for seaweed farming with a production potential of 9.7 million tonnes (wet weight) in a year.

CMFRI has developed and standardised indigenous sea cage farming technology suitable to Indian coastal and open waters. On average, up to 3 tonnes of fish could be produced in a 6-diameter cage within a period of 8 months. CMFRI has estimated that farmers could earn an economic return ranging from ₹1.5 to ₹2.5 lakh depending on the species grown from each crop”, he said.

Huge potential

Besides sea cage farming, technologies for seaweed farming and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA)—an innovative practice combining seaweed and mussel farming with cage fish farming—have been proved successful by CMFRI for income multiplication and employment empowerment among the coastal people of the country, Gopalakrishnan said.

CMFRI Director said India’s current mariculture production is less than 0.1 million tonnes per year against a projected potential of 4 to 8 million tonnes. Successful expansion of inland and brackishwater aquaculture in the country could be capitalised to boost mariculture production in a phased manner, he added.

Inaugurating the ‘Winter School’, Kuldeep K Lal, Director of ICAR-Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), urged scientists to focus on indigenous technologies and local fish varieties that would bring prosperity to the common people. Developing appropriate technology with good vision will help transform the quality of life of people even living in the rural area.

The 21-day Winter School is aimed at popularising CMFRI’s mariculture technologies by imparting training to a diversified group of researchers from different parts of the country. A total of 22 researchers from seven States are attending the programme.

Imelda Joseph, Course Director of the Winter School, said popularising the mariculture technologies would offer employment opportunities to the coastal community and make way for women empowerment.