The Kochi-based National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology and Training (NIFPHATT), under the Union Ministry of Agriculture, has set up a ‘chilled tuna plant' in Visakhapatnam.

This is in addition to the one in Kochi which commenced operations last year. The Visakhapatnam facility will be offered to exporters on lease, according officials at the institute.

The unit in Kochi is also being utilised by a private enterprise engaged in tuna exports. The demand for special-grade tuna is high in the international market. Tuna in the ‘Sashmi grade' is exported mainly to Japan and countries in Europe.

The facility will be offered on ‘dry lease' as the government does not own trawlers that can handle special-grade tuna, official sources said.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) had launched projects to enhance the export of the species.

Sashmi grade tuna should be processed within 48 hours of the catch, sources said. Tuna fishing requires special training.