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MPEDA to promote 'cage' aquaculture

INDIA - India's government trade promotion body, Marine Products Development Authority (MPEDA), will promote cage fish farming, a system prevalent in Vietnam and Scandinavian countries.

As per a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed recently by MPEDA with the Norwegian state-owned Innovation Norway, the latter will lend technical assistance for the promotion of cage culture in India.

Norwegian experts, after a survey of Indian waters for more than a year, have begun the cage farming on a trial basis in the Andamans, Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and Padana in Kasargod district of Kerala, said G. Mohankumar, MPEDA chairman.

Cages made of wood or steel frames, covered with mesh or nets, are kept immersed in natural water bodies. Little fish, or fingerlings, of different varieties such as sea bass, grouper or cobia are put into these cages and provided with feed regularly till they grow to a marketable size of 6-8 inches.

Other than shrimping (fishing for shrimp), the Indian marine industry currently uses aquaculture only for shrimp production, which accounted for 175,000 tonnes during 2006-07. The goal is to tap the abundant water bodies, including the backwaters, estuaries and offshore sea, for growing other fish varieties, which should comprise 50 per cent of the total aquaculture production over the next five years, said Mohankumar.