Aquaculture in India

Aquaculture in India
Posted on 21-08-2023

Aquaculture pertains to the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals within controlled environments. As defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aquaculture encompasses the rearing of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic plants. This practice can be categorized into several distinct types, including freshwater aquaculture, coastal aquaculture, sea farming, and brackish water aquaculture.

Varieties of Aquaculture

Freshwater Aquaculture The 'Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture' has played a significant role in the advancement of catfish and freshwater shark breeding and rearing. A noteworthy facet of aquaculture is the cultivation of freshwater prawns or shrimp, primarily for human consumption. This form of aquaculture finds prominence in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh.

Brackish Water Farming This practice is predominantly limited to coastal wetlands that have been enclosed by human efforts, locally referred to as "bheries" in West Bengal. Similar methods are employed in Kerala, known locally as "pakkali." Recognition for this type of aquaculture grew with the initiation of the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) in 'Brackish Water Fish Farming' by the ICAR.

Shrimp Farming Marine shrimp are cultivated for direct human consumption. The establishment of the Brackishwater Fish Farmers' Development Authority in coastal states significantly facilitated shrimp farming. Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and West Bengal have made substantial strides in the realm of shrimp farming. The Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh stands out as an especially prolific hub of shrimp production, earning it the distinguished title of the "Shrimp Capital of India."

Mariculture: A subdivision of aquaculture, mariculture focuses on cultivating marine organisms for both sustenance and other commodities. This is executed within open oceans, enclosed seas, sections of oceans, as well as controlled environments like tanks and ponds. The primary food yield includes fish, prawns, and oysters. Beyond sustenance, mariculture produces non-food items such as fish-derived products, nutrient agar, jewelry, and cosmetics.

Algaculture: Algaculture involves the deliberate cultivation of diverse algae species. A considerable portion of the cultivated algae falls into the microalgae category, also known as phytoplankton or microphytes.

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA): IMTA represents a method in which the byproducts from one species are employed as resources for another. In this approach, fed aquaculture (e.g., fish, shrimp) is integrated with inorganic extractive (e.g., seaweed) and organic extractive (e.g., shellfish) aquaculture. This synergy aims to establish balanced systems that ensure both environmental and economic sustainability, while also gaining social acceptance.

Fish Farming: This entails the cultivation of fish on a commercial scale within tanks or other aquatic enclosures. Prominent species like salmon, catfish, cod, carp, and trout are raised through fish farming practices.

Cultivation of Seaweeds: Marine algae are commonly referred to as seaweeds. As sunlight can effectively reach depths of approximately 15 meters, most seaweeds thrive in shallow waters near coastlines or reed areas. In the present scenario, seaweed contributes to 30% of global aquaculture production.

Seaweed holds a broad spectrum of applications across various domains such as food, textiles, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and fertilizers. This multifaceted utility has led to a significant surge in demand for seaweed in recent times. Seaweeds are naturally abundant in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and bioactive compounds, thereby emerging as a pivotal component in human dietary consumption.

Given these attributes, there exists substantial potential for further advancing seaweed cultivation in India.

Paddy-cum-fish culture is an innovative and integrated agricultural practice that involves the simultaneous cultivation of rice (paddy) and fish in the same field or water body. This approach leverages the symbiotic relationship between rice and fish, creating a mutually beneficial environment.

In this system, rice fields are converted into fish ponds during the monsoon season, capitalizing on the natural inundation that occurs. The fish feed on insects, weeds, and detritus present in the water, which not only supplements their diet but also helps in reducing pests and weeds that could affect the rice crop. The rice plants, in turn, provide shade and cover for the fish, creating a sheltered habitat.

As the rice grows and the water level recedes towards the end of the rice-growing season, fish are harvested before the fields are prepared for the next rice planting. This cycle of rice cultivation and fish rearing continues, optimizing land and water use and enhancing overall productivity.

Paddy-cum-fish culture is an example of sustainable and integrated farming that efficiently utilizes available resources while promoting food security and economic benefits for farmers.

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