Destination-Kerala-MPEDA

Kochi: Tapping into the huge potential of ornamental fishery as a livelihood option and foreign exchange earner, the Marine Products Export Development Authority  (MPEDA) has launched a subsidy scheme for the setting up of breeding units of colourful aquarium fishes and marketing societies in various states to facilitate their export.

Through its new Ornamental Fish Assistance Scheme, MPEDA, an agency of the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry, provides subsidy for the ornamental fishery to registered Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Marketing Societies. Financial assistance is provided at the rate of 25 per cent of the total investment, subject to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh.

Earlier, it was providing subsidy under a three-tier gradation scheme. Under Grade I, maximum financial assistance was Rs. 75,000 for a breeding unit, Rs. 2 lakh under Grade II, and Rs. 7.5 lakh under Grade III.

“Through its subsidy schemes, the Authority has established ornamental fish breeding units in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,” Dr. A Jayathilak, Chairman, MPEDA, said at the three-day Aqua Aquaria India (AAI) 2017, a biennial exposition on India’s ornamental fishery and aquaculture sector that began at Mangalore.

During FY 2015-16, the company assisted 22 units with a financial involvement of Rs. 95.01 lakhs. “These units are functioning well and contributing to favourable exports from their units,” he added.

MPEDA has also launched a ‘Green Certification’ scheme, the first of its kind for the freshwater ornamental fishery, to curb the harmful impact of wild capture of aquarium fishes and help maintain the environmental and economic sustainability. It has also successfully completed a project on breeding techniques of indigenous fresh water species of the Western Ghats.

“The scheme will help reduce dependence on wild stocks and ensure that the fish collection is done in tune with the principles of ecosystem management,” Dr. Jayathilak pointed out. “Green certification and eco-labelling are now considered imperative to sustain the ornamental fish resources and boost the product image.”

On the issue of aquarium accessories and equipments (plants, aeration units and feed) being mostly imported from China, he said MPEDA is imparting training programmes in areas like aquarium fabrication, assembling of filters and production of live feed. “More initiatives would come up in this regard. Several ‘Lab to Farm’ projects have to be implemented to transfer technologies from various research organisations to the field.”

High freight charges for ornamental fish export by leading carriers, non-acceptance of live fish cargo by certain carriers, lack of quarantine facilities at major ports, and unavailability of pure strain of brood stock leading to poor quality and less survival rate of marketable size fish are among the major problems affecting the aquarium industry. Also, there is absence of an organised domestic market in many states for aquarium fish that needs to be addressed.