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Breakthrough achieved in fish breeding

D. J. Walter Scott
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HAPPY HARVEST:Fingerlings of Cobia fishes at CMFRI in Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district.— Photo: L. Balachandar
HAPPY HARVEST:Fingerlings of Cobia fishes at CMFRI in Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district.— Photo: L. Balachandar

The Mandapam Regional Center of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has achieve a major milestone in its research activities on Wednesday, when it unveiled a technology, a first of its kind in the country in breeding and seed production of Cobia and Silver Pampano, two species of high value marine finfishes.

“We achieved a breakthrough and developed the new technology, a first of its kind in the country after six years of extensive research,” a visibly joyous Mr G.Gopakumar, Principal Scientist and Head (Mariculture) CMFRI, Mandapam told The Hindu on Thursday.

When much research attention was not given for developing seed and production methods for high value finfishes suited for sea farming, the Mandapam Regional centre of CMFRI has developed the technology, after intensifying its research activities, he said.

Envisaging the prospects of Cobia farming in the country, about half a dozen scientists took up the research and initiated the broodstock development in sea cages, during 2008 and achieved the first breakthrough in developing a technology in March-April, 2010, he said.

But before releasing the technology and making it available for private entrepreneurship, they carried out trials on sea cage farming till the fishes attained an average weight of 2.5 kg in six months and 7.3 kg in one year, Mr Gopakumar said. The scientists also found that the two species could be grown in low salinity, he added.

Experiments also revealed that up to 15 parts per thousand (ppt), the growth and survival was comparable to that in seawater, he said. “These results point out the possibility of developing lucrative cobia aquaculture enterprise in the country. Similarly, pompano, which has fast growth rate and good meat quality and high market demand was suitable for farming in the vast low saline waters in the country”, he added.

Claiming that this could be considered as a milestone towards the development of pompano aquaculture in the country, he said ever since the achievement was made, there has been an increase in demand for the seed from the coastal fish farmers.

He said as of now, a technology was available for commercial seed production only in case of marine finfish, the “sea bass”. The technology was developed by Chennai based Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), but private entrepreneurship has not been developed, he said.

Stating that the scientists would continue their research and perfect the technology, he said, “we, however, thought that this is time for the technology to be transferred “.

Thanks to the increasing demand, the Mandapam Regional centre of CMFRI has launched a training programme on “Mass production of live feeds protocols for larviculture of the two species” for the benefit of private companies, which were engaged in shrimp and prawn farming. With little modification of their existing infrastructure facilities, they could take up cobia and pompano farming”, he said.

Scientist B Johnson said the training programme, inaugurated by Collector K Nanthakumar on Wednesday, would go on till December 21. Twenty people, including 16 from 13 private companies and four local fish farmers are being imparted the training free of cost. A pond farming demonstration of pompano was held at Anthervathi in Andhra Pradesh and the fishes had an average survival rate of 95 per cent, he said.

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