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MPEDA to introduce pathogen-free shrimp

INDIA - 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.