KOLLAM: Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer), a fish widely regarded as a great delicacy, has been identified by the Fisheries Department for large-scale commercial cultivation in Kollam and Alappuzha districts under the cage culture programme.
Fisheries Department Deputy Director K.J. Prasanna Kumar told The Hindu on Wednesday that two men each from five fish farmer groups in Kollam returned here on Monday after a week-long training at the seabass farm of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA) at Karaikal in Puducherry.
Mr. Prasanna Kumar, who led the group, said the State government had made an initial allocation of Rs.30 lakh for Kollam and Rs.10 lakh for Alappuzha for the programme. The pilot project will be implemented at Vattakayal, Chakkuvalli and the Government Fish Farm at Ayiramthengu in Kollam.
Asian seabass, also called barramundi, sea perch and cockup in English, is known as narimeen in Kerala. Seabass tastes like seer fish (naimeen) and is priced almost on a par in the market. Seabass is a well known sports fish and highly preferred by anglers. Though it grows up to 4 kg, the commercially viable size under the cage culture programme is around 1 kg.
The cages will be made of nylon knotless net attached to PVC or wooden frames, each having a length and breadth of 2 metres and a height of 1.5 metres. Seabass fries will be immersed in the water body in the cages at a depth of two metres but with adequate protection from wind and strong currents.
The method is well developed and a money-spinner for fish farmers of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Mr. Prasanna Kumar said that the seabass fries will attain the marketable size of 750 gm in seven month. One acre of water body will hold about 100 cages.
The entire fries required under the programme will be supplied by the seabass hatchery of the Rajiv Gandhi centre. The seabass feed for supply is imported from Australia.