Cabinet nod for the project is awaited

A national institute for marine biotechnology is likely to come up in one of the coastal States, according to Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, A.S. Ninawe.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the five-day international symposium on fish diseases hosted by the College of Fisheries here, Mr. Ninawe said the proposal was before the Cabinet.

The institute will be a platform for comprehensive research on fish bioprospecting, genome survey and other key areas that will help aquaculture. The proposed institute will provide the technological inputs as well. Mr. Ninawe said that the institute that will undertake genomic sequencing of Indian fish species, is expected to be set up at an estimated cost of Rs. 200 crore.

Other intitiatives

Some of the initiatives of the Department of Biotechnology had already borne fruit, according to Mr. Ninawe. The semi-intensive prawn culture developed by the department in Nellore had touched yield of 10 tonnes per hectare per annum. Shrimp culture, the department had demonstrated, could reach productivity of 17 tonnes per ha. Andhra farmers were now able to produce up to 25 tonnes per ha.

MoU with Norway

He said the Government of India had signed a memorandum of understanding with Norway to share knowledge on vaccine development to prevent diseases in fish species – mainly the Indian carp – widely used in Indian aquaculture. As of now, there aren't any vaccines for prevention of diseases such as white spot disease. The department was attempting, through networking, a model that could address the issue, he added.

The five-day symposium, which concluded on Friday, highlighted that aquaculture produce in Asia, which is growing fast, has witnessed many diseases causing deep concern for policy makers, scientists, farmers and the entrepreneurs.

As many as 68 presentations were made and 300 scientists, nearly half of them from abroad, participated.