A group of aqua farmers on Kakkamadan Island in Aanappuzha, a tributary of the Periyar in Ernakulam district, has had a rich haul of cobia fish using the newly-introduced cage culture method, developed under the aegis of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA), established by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
MPEDA deputy director M. Shaji said in a statement here that it was for the first time that the cobia fish, highly valued in the marine fishes market, was being cage-cultured.
The venture, undertaken by Swasraya Jalakrishi Sangham, Puthenvelikkara, was a great success, he claimed, with 100 per cent of the hatchlings being harvested as mature fish.
Known locally by various names such as motha and kadalvaraal , cobia is often compared in taste, meat quality and value to seer fish and is in great demand even in foreign markets.
The MPEDA official said cage farming of cobia in the sea was widespread though it was for the first time that cage farming of the species was carried out successfully in a water body that was saline for a limited period of the year.Experimental venture
The hatchlings for the experimental venture were sourced from the Pozhiyoor (Thiruvananthapuram) hatchery, established by RGCA and from the seas off the coast of Muttam in Kanyakumari.
The experimental farming of cobia began in early December last year with 400 cobia hatchlings, each weighing 70 grams, released into the cages. The hatchlings grew to weigh an average 1.85 kg each over a period of 135 days, the statement said.Profit
Since the harvest of the cage-cultured cobia took place ahead of the festival of Easter, the fish was sold for Rs. 310 a kg. The MPEDA official claimed that the farmers were able to make a profit of about Rs. 75,000 from a cage measuring 40 cubic metres.