Stakeholders in the aquaculture sector hailed the new Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, as it enabled newer forms of environmentally friendly activities like cage culture and seaweed culture in coastal areas, mostly within Coastal Regulation Zones.

Madhusudhan Reddy, President of the Society of Aquaculture Professionals (SAP), said the new bill is a big relief, allowing existing hatcheries to operate without the fear of demolition due to the replacement of jail terms with penalties for the offences committed in carrying out coastal aquaculture activities. The seafront and sea can be utilised for cage and seaweed culture, which is expected to bring in new investments and generate employment.

Aquaculture farmers and stakeholders have been requesting the removal of ambiguities and amendments to some of the provisions of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act to make the legislation progressive and reduce the regulatory burden. Reddy also urged the government to support the sector under its blue revolution initiatives to tap the domestic market in a big way rather than being export-dependent.

Through this amendment, Muthukaruppan, former President of SAP, said the sector can expect a productivity increase from the current 8.7 lakh tonnes to nearly 20 lakh tonnes in the next 4 to 5 years and a rise in job opportunities from the current two lakhs to six lakhs.

The Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act was enacted in 2005 with the objective to protect the coastal environment while promoting the orderly growth of coastal aquaculture farming in coastal areas. This has facilitated the creation of millions of jobs, self-employment opportunities, enhanced incomes for aqua farmers, and catalysed growth of businesses and entrepreneurship including the development of a vibrant aquaculture support industry.

Yellanki Ravikumar, President of All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association said shrimp exports have more than doubled from ₹19,368 crore in 2013-14 to ₹43,135 crore in 2022-23 with the US being the largest importer. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu have contributed substantially to the growth of coastal aquaculture shrimp production and export. During the last 9 years, the production increased from 3.22 lakh tonnes in 2013-14 to a record 11.84 lakh tonnes (provisional figures) in 2022-23.

India’s seafood exports doubled from ₹30,213 crore in 2013-14 to ₹63,969 crore in 2022-23 with shrimp contributing the lion’s share of exports at ₹43,135 crore.