VISAKHAPATNAM: Open-sea cage culture has marked the dawn of a new era in fishing. After the phenomenal success of harvesting of fish through open-sea cage culture off Visakhapatnam last year, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) will be launching another cage shortly off the coast to boost fish production.
The initial success in this novel venture prompted them to undertake techno-economic feasibility trials in different States. “The cage-culture has been launched along the entire east and west coast from Gujarat to Orissa, after its success in Vizag coast,” Vishwajit Das, technical officer, CMFRI, told The Hindu.
With marine fish production getting stagnated owing to depletion of natural fish stocks and increasing demand for fish, there arose an urgent need to search for ways of meeting the growing demand through sources other than the present natural harvest. While China, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia have made giant strides in cage culture, the successful launch of the project in India can greatly enhance production and yield high returns. The centre has set up three cages - the bigger one is of 15-metre diameter and the other two are smaller cages of six-metre diameter. Projects have been taken up at Kakinada and Srikakulam.
The cages, made of plastic and thermocol, are submerged in water and anchored to the bottom of the seabed. They are circular in shape. While the cage here will be stocked with Asia Sea bass (locally known as ‘pandugappalu’), in Gujarat the CMFRI were experimenting with prawns.
The CMFRI believed that cages could be deployed in future to grow the local and highly-valued marine fish. The yield would be roughly 30 tonnes and the estimated return Rs. 35 lakh per crop.
A heavy weight iron object will be hooked to the bottom of the cage along with a powerful rope. CMFRI staff will go to the cage twice a day for feeding the fingerlings.
Each fingerling is expected to grow to 750 grams to one kg. within next six months from present weight of 10 grams.