The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has proposed the establishment of mariculture parks to enhance coastal fish production of the country, in view of the growing food and nutritional demand anticipated in the coming years.

This proposal was presented at a discussion on aquaculture and fisheries-based transformation of food systems held at the 16th Agricultural Science Congress (ASC) here.

According to CMFRI, mariculture parks can be set up in the coastal districts where suitable sites have been identified for various mariculture activities, including marine cage fish farming and seaweed farming. CMFRI has identified 46,823.2 hectares of suitable sites for marine cage fish farming along Indian territorial waters and 333 prospective seaweed farming sites covering 23,950 hectares.

Scientists hold the view that the parks will help to avoid the scattered and unplanned expansion of sea farming, which can lead to disruption of the ecosystem, user conflicts, and other social issues.

The establishment of mariculture parks is in line with the crucial strategies needed for the growth of the mariculture sector, including comprehensive planning, promotion of new production technologies, infrastructure development, improved industry-pro policy making, and implementation of efficient marine spatial planning in conjunction with other maritime sectors.

Sustainable economy

“Establishing mariculture technology parks in the Indian territorial waters would pave the path for a sustainable blue economy by integrating indigenous mariculture technologies and fortifying the blue growth strategy envisaged by the Prime Minister. As part of this, efforts are needed to improve and develop legislation and ocean accounting. This would help achieve the intended socio, economic, and ecological goals of the country through mariculture ventures,” said the CMFRI paper which was presented at the 16th ASC by Suresh Kumar Mojjada.

The CMFRI has developed indigenous mariculture technologies for offshore and near-shore cage fish farming, bivalve farming, seaweed farming, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture practice, and a combined farming practice using either seaweed or bivalve with cage fish farming.

The session also highlighted that creation of climate adaptation plans integrating with fisheries management is required by engaging scientists, fishers, traders, processors, policy makers and other stakeholders to address the challenges posed by the climate crisis.