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White Shrimp Offer Export Potential

Crustaceans Economics +2 more

INDIA - West-coast shrimp farmers see a bright future for the rearing of Pacific white shrimp.

Shrimp farmers in the west coast are all set to make a bundle by cultivating the Penaeus vannamei, also known as Pacific white shrimp or the whiteleg shrimp, a variety of prawn native to the eastern Pacific, from Sonora in Mexico to northern Peru. It is also widely grown in Thailand, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil.

Daily News & Analysis DNA of India reports that the central government has cleared the decks for bringing in this species for farming in the west coast after it tasted success in the east coast.

"This species, although new to us, is widely cultured in Japan, China, USA and parts of Europe. But the total production from these parts of the world is only able to meet the internal demand. India, which is known for its shrimp-friendly waters and temperature, could be the best place for growing this shrimp," said Dr Shivaprakash, director of Shrimp Aquaculture Centre at Ankola Uttara Kannada, a unit of the College of Fisheries, Mangalore, affiliated to the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal Fisheries Sciences University at Bidar.

Sources at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) told DNA that the aquaculture farmers have reaped gold with Penaeus vannamei in the east coast.

"This is a fast-growing species. It attains full body weight in just two months, and the farm is ready for harvest in just 75 to 80 days. For every hectare, the farmer can get not less than 20-25 tonnes of yield per season, against five tonnes per hectare from the other species of shrimp cultivated in the west coast so far."

"The first vannamei production centre will come up in Uttara Kannada," said MP of Kanara constituency, Ananth Kumar Hegde.

He told DNA that the central government was keen on introducing vannamei farming in Uttara Kannada for various reasons. First, the fishing in this region was showing a dismal performance due to various environmental reasons; second, vannamei farming can be a big boost to improve the economic condition of the shrimp farmers in the region.”

The Union agriculture ministry cleared vannamei farming for the west coast when Japan backed out from farming after the radiation leak from Fukushima nuclear reactors after the tsunami.

"The west coast will be flush with export orders once the infrastructure is in place, Some of them will be 100 per cent export-oriented units (EOU) and the rest will be for general markets. We see vannamei shrimps flooding the fish markets in Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore and malls in big cities. Due to their fast-breeding growth, the volumes of production may be high," said Hegde.

"It was this species that tennis player Pete Sampras used to cultivate in Ecuador before he went into tennis. It is fully disease-free. There is no question of administering antibiotics. The produce is ready for high-value markets in the European Union, US, and Japan," said Ishaq Ahmed, who exports shrimps from Mangalore to EU.

The central agricultural ministry has written to the Central Aquaculture Authority at Chennai to 'freely' permit the west coast farmers to grow and export vannamei shrimps. However, sources said that there was no application from the west coast so far.

Joint director of state fisheries department (Marine), Gangadhar Madikeri, told DNA that the lack of interest was due to the dearth of hatcheries for vannamei broodstock. "There are three hatcheries in Andhra Pradesh, which helps farmers from Tamil Nadu, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh to rear Shrimp Gold," he said.

The Karnataka State fisheries Minister, Krishna Palemar, added: "Efforts are on to locate at least one hatchery for various types of marine and sweet water prawns. The government has already written to the Central Aquaculture Authority to give clearance to the project."