With the setting up of the first sea cage hatchery for multi-species Grouper fish in South Andamans, India is all set to cash in on the multi-billon dollar live seafood market based in South East Asia centered in Hong Kong.
According to the officials of the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) who have been instrumental in breeding the high valued Grouper fish species, one kilogram of live Groupers such as the Mouse Grouper fish could fetch as high as US $ 80 per kilogram.
“The pristine seas surrounding the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are blessed with widespread distribution of Grouper fish species which have an excellent potential for live fish trade. In order to provide opportunities to fisherfolk, entrepreneurs and exporters of the country, the Grouper project has been developed at a fast pace,” senior MPEDA officials said.
It is estimated that presently around 70,000 tonnes of Grouper is produced through aquaculture worldwide and the effort has been to enable India join the bandwagon with the establishment of a state-of-the-art hatchery.
MPEDA officials pointed out that at present exports of live seafood amounted to only 0.81% percent of the total seafood exports from the country. Out of the 0.81 percent, export of live mud crabs form more than half of the quantity.
“Our objective is to increase the export of live seafood, multi-species Grouper fish in particular to 3% of our total export over the coming years. Even reaching such a milestone would drastically increase our revenues besides providing livelihood for local fisherfold,” said Dr. S. Kandan from MPEDA.
The concept of setting up sea cages to breed fish is a well established industry in South East Asia and marine experts here hope that if our fishermen are provided sufficient training in setting up sea cages, it could revolutionize their incomes, especially for the poor fisherfolk in the Andamans.