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Kochi, June 20, 2020
The production of Karimeen or Pearl Spot fish, globally known for its tender flesh, delectable taste and high-yielding market value, has got a major boost with the Multispecies Aquaculture Complex (MAC) of MPEDA at Vallarpadam developing facilities for its commercial-scale breeding and seed production, offering a lucrative alternative to fish farmers to grow it round-the-year.
MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas, while inaugurating the sale of first batch of Karimeen seed produced from MAC here on Friday, said the commercial production would enable farmers to get good quality seeds throughout the year and enhance the production of the fish in the state.
In 2010, the Kerala government had declared Karimeen (Etroplus suratensis) as the ‘State Fish’ to protect this costly fish from over-exploitation, considering its food and economic value and a major attraction of culinary tourism. Cultured in traditional ponds in the state, it commands a high price of Rs. 500-600 a kg.
“The production of Karimeen should be substantially boosted in order to make it a candidate species for export. Nowadays, the farmers are mainly depending on wild caught seeds for culture. Too much dependency on the seeds from the wild will lead to over-exploitation,” Srinivas pointed out.
“To overcome this, MPEDA has developed facilities for commercial-scale breeding and seed production for Pearl Spot at its Multispecies Aquaculture Complex at Vallarpadam,” he added.
Known as the unofficial brand ambassador of God’s Own Country, Pearl Spot is an indigenous fish extensively found along the east and south-west coasts of peninsular India. It is an important candidate species for aquaculture in ponds, in both brackish water and freshwater.
The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), through its R&D arm Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) initiated the functioning of MAC during December 2018 to revive the farming of Black Tiger shrimp and also to diversify the aquaculture in the west coast of the country through the continuous supply of GIFT (Tilapia), Asian Seabass and Pompano seeds. In 18 months, MAC has supplied 11.7 million seeds of different species to 3,236 beneficiaries.
The MPEDA Chairman said initially only seeds of tiger shrimp were produced in MAC and the smaller seeds of other species brought from other RGCA facilities were sold to farmers after nursery rearing.
During the current year, seed production of GIFT and Karimeen, along with tiger shrimp, has been initiated in MAC. The seeds will be supplied to farmers on a continuous basis. MAC has also planned to initiate seed production of other commercially important species in the future.