Global fish catch, from the wild, has stagnated at between 80-90 million tons for about a decade now. Given that consumption is on the rise, fish farming is growing worldover, said K.Sunilkumar Mohamed, principal scientist and head, Molluscan Fisheries Division at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), headquartered in Kochi (Cochin), a major port city on India’s west coast.
Global fish production hovers around 150 million tons. 80-90 million tons of fish are caught in the wild -- from lakes, seas and oceans – and the remaining comes from fish farms built in the seas or on the coast, said Mohamed.
The fishing potential, in and around India, is around 4.2 million tons a year. “We catch around 3.6 million tons as of now.” Consumption is bound to rise and this makes aquafarming a good business to be in, Mohamed said.
“People have to be made aware of the business opportunity in this kind of farming,” he said. Young fish can be grown in hatcheries or enclosures built in the sea, akin to cages, he said.
Shrimp farming, popular in India, is “beset with environmental and disease-related issues. International prices of shrimp are down and this is affecting business in India as well. Fish farming is the alternative,” said Mohamed.
Aquafarming can be a lucrative business proposition. For instance, Cobia or black salmon, considered a delicacy, sells for some INR200 a kilogram, Mohamed said.
CMFRI has developed and continues to work on several aquafarming techniques for different species of food fish and ornamental fish, meant for aquariums, the scientist said.
Aquafarming or aquaculture ‘accounted for 46 percent of the global food fish supply in 2010, up from 43 percent in 2006,’ according to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data published in SeafoodSource.com.
India has several pockets of high consumption, such as Kerala with an average consumption of 29 kilograms per capita per year; Goa with 35 kilograms; and the Lakshadweep with over 40 kilograms, the scientist said.