Aquaculture in India

Fisheries in India is a very important economic activity and a flourishing sector with varied resources and potentials. Only after the Indian Independence, has fisheries together with agriculture been recognized as an important sector. The vibrancy of the sector can be visualized by the 11–fold increase that India achieved in fish production in just six decades, i.e. from 0.75 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 9.6 million tonnes during 2012–13. This resulted in an unparalleled average annual growth rate of over 4.5 percent over the years which has placed the country on the forefront of global fish production, only after China. Besides meeting the domestic needs, the dependence of over 14.5 million people on fisheries activities for their livelihood and foreign exchange earnings to the tune of US$ 3.51 billion (2012–13) from fish and fisheries products, amply justifies the importance of the sector on the country’s economy and in livelihood security.
India is also an important country that produces fish through aquaculture in the world. India is home to more than 10 percent of the global fish diversity. Presently, the country ranks second in the world in total fish production with an annual fish production of about 9.06 million metric tonnes.

As the second largest country in aquaculture production, the share of inland fisheries and aquaculture has gone up from 46 percent in the 1980s to over 85 percent in recent years in total fish production. Freshwater aquaculture showed an overwhelming ten-fold growth from 0.37 million tonnes in 1980 to 4.03 million tonnes in 2010; with a mean annual growth rate of over 6 percent. Freshwater aquaculture contributes to over 95 percent of the total aquaculture production. The freshwater aquaculture comprises of the culture of carp fishes, culture of catfishes (air breathing and non-air breathing), culture of freshwater prawns, culture of pangasius, and culture of tilapia. In addition, in brackishwater sector, the aquaculture includes culture of shrimp varieties mainly, the native giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) and exotic whitelegshrimp (Penaeus vannamei). Thus, the production of carp in freshwater and shrimps in brackishwater form the bulk of major areas of aquaculture activity. The three Indian major carps, namely catla (Catla catla), rohu (Labeo rohita) and mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala) contribute the bulk of production to the extent of 70 to 75 percent of the total fresh water fish production, followed by silver carp, grass carp, common carp, catfishes forming a second important group contributing the balance of 25 to 30 percent. It is estimated that only about 40 percent of the available area of 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks has been put to use and an immense scope for expansion of area exists under freshwater aquaculture (Handbook of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2013, ICAR publication, India). The national mean production levels from still-water ponds has gone up from about 600 kg/hectare/year in 1974 to over 2 900 kg/hectare/annum at present and several farmers are even demonstrating higher production levels of 8–12 tonnes/hectare/year (Handbook of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2013, ICAR publication, India). The technologies of induced carp breeding and polyculture in static ponds and tanks virtually revolutionized the freshwater aquaculture sector and turned the sector into a fast growing commercial sector. The developmental support provided by the Indian Government through a network of Fish Farmers’ Development Agencies and Brackishwater Fish Farmers’ Development Agencies and the research and development programmes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) have been the principal vehicles for this revolutionary development. In addition, additional support was also provided by various state governments, host of organizations and agencies like the Marine Products Export Development Authority, financial institutions, etc.

The freshwater prawn farming has received increased attention only in the last two decades due to its high consumer demand. The giant river prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, the largest and fastest growing prawn species, is cultured either under monoculture or polyculture with major carps. Culture for mariculture species has been initiated in the country and is presently carried out to a limited extent for seaweeds, and mussels as a commercial activity and some fish species like seabass and cobia on an experimental basis to standardize the technology.

While sustainability is being addressed, the present concern is with regard to species diversification, in spite of the fact that the country possesses several other endemic potential and cultivable medium and minor carp species having regional demand, such as, Labeo calbasu, L. fimbriatus, L.gonius, L.dussumieri, L.bata, Cirrihinus cirrhosa, C.reba, Puntius sarana, P.jerdoni. Efforts are being made to standardize the technology of mass-scale seed production of these species and their inclusion as a component of conventional carp polyculture, based on their regional importance. In addition, there is contribution from cold water fisheries, although insufficient for fish basket, is of high value and low–volume category with a projected volume of 1 percent. Important food fishes of cold waters are mahaseer and schizothoracids belonging to the indigenous species and trouts among the exotic varieties.

As far as brackish water aquaculture in India is concerned, it has a long history of traditional practice in bheries of West Bengal and pokkali fields of Kerala. Scientific farm management in the country was initiated only in early 1990s, which developed into a major export oriented sector in subsequent years. However, commercial farming was confined to a single commodity, shrimp, Penaeus monodon, andPenaeus vannamei due to their high export potential. India has an estimated total estuarine area of 3.9 million hectares; of which, 1.2 million hectares of coastal salt-affected lands have been identified to be potentially suitable for brackish water shrimp farming. Of this, about 15 percent of the potential area has been put into aquaculture purpose. About 9 million hectares of salt–affected land has been estimated in the hot semi-arid and arid eco-region of northern plains and central high lands in the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat with surface and sub-soil saline water. Apart from the giant tiger prawn (P. monodon), certain marine/brackish water fish/shrimp species such as milkfish, pearl-spot and mullets have shown a lot of promises for commercial aquaculture in such inland saline soil/water areas. Production potential ranging from 0.5 to 3 tonnes/hectare/year has been demonstrated from such waters. (Handbook of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2013, ICAR, India).

India’s aquaculture production basically can be classified into freshwater and brackish water production. There are 429 Fish Farmers Development Agencies (FFDA) and 39 Brackish water Fish Farmers Development Agencies (BFDAs) for promoting freshwater and coastal aquaculture. Some of the important species cultured in India are the Indian major carps and shrimp. Besides these, ornamental fish culture and seaweed farming, are slowly gaining importance in the aquaculture scenario in the last few years as alternative livelihood supporting sectors as small-scale activities.

Aquaculture in India has evolved as a viable commercial farming practice from the level of traditionally backyard activity over last three decades with considerable diversification in terms of species and systems, and has been showing an impressive annual growth rate of 6-7 percent. While the carp-based freshwater aquaculture, mainly constituted by the Indian major carps, such as, catla, rohu and mrigal, has been contributing over 90 percent of the aquaculture production satisfying the domestic need, the shrimp-based coastal aquaculture contributes to only about 5 percent of the export earnings.

Induced breeding of carps and catfishes, hatcheries for mass-scale spawning, seed rearing and carp polyculture are some of the epoch-making technologies actually guided by the freshwater aquaculture development. The sector has also shown considerable diversification in recent years with the adoption of other species such as catfishes and freshwater prawns, due to their higher market demand and economic values. While production of 4–5 tonnes under carp polyculture is quite common, farmers of several regions are able to produce 8–12 tonnes/ha/year. Integrated fish farming with livestock and horticulture has not only been able to utilize the by-products/wastes as principal inputs, but also made the farming practice highly remunerative and farmers’ friendly. Development of improved rohu (Jayanti) through selective breeding with a record of 17 percent higher growth response per generation after seven generations is a major achievement. Availability of balanced supplementary feed for different life stages for diversified cultivable species and appropriate disease management measures are some of the important other developments. Almost five-fold growth in mean national pond productivity in last four decades, i.e. from about 600 kg in 1970s to 2 900 kg/ha today is proof of the sector’s vibrancy. As the second largest aquaculture producer in the world, aquaculture in India is also considered as a thriving sector for meeting the increasing fish demand in the coming years.

The development of protocol for ornamental fish breeding and management has provided important livelihood options for marginal and land-less farmers in certain localities. Promotion of trout and mahseer farming in the upland coldwater region has also shown significant potential for aquafarming.

Brackish water aquaculture in India is concentrated around the giant tiger prawn (P.monodon) as the single most important species. Recently, the culture of exotic, whiteleg shrimp, Penaeus vannamei, however, has attracted the farmers’ attention because of its fast growth, low incidence of native diseases, availability of Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) domesticated strains and culture feasibility in wide salinity range. With the production levels of 10–12 tonnes/ha/crop of 3-4 months duration the production of this species has reached to a level of 10 470 516 tonnes during 2012–13.

Mariculture in India, although limited to the farming of mussels and edible oysters undertaken in some coastal region of Kerala over the years, has successfully produced sea cage farming in recent years, initially with seabass and most recently cobia, which has shown the prospects of commercial mariculture in the country.

History and general overview

Aquaculture in India has a long history, with references to fish culture in Kautilya’s Arthashastra (321–300 B.C.) and King Someswara’s Manasoltara (1127 A.D.). The traditional practice of fish culture in small ponds in eastern India is known to have existed for hundreds of years; significant advances were made in the State of West Bengal in the early nineteenth century with the controlled breeding of carp in bundhs (tanks or impoundments where riverine conditions are simulated). Fish culture received notable attention in the state of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras) as early as 1911, and subsequently, states such as Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Mysore and Hyderabad initiated fish culture through the establishment of Fisheries Departments and support to fishers and farmers for expansion of the sector.

Freshwater Aquaculture

As stated earlier, carp culture forms the backbone to freshwater aquaculture practice in India. Carp culture in India was restricted to as homestead backyard pond activity in West Bengal and Orissa until late 1950s, with seed from riverine sources as the only input resulting in low level of production. Importance of fish culture as an economically promising enterprise was gradually implemented in India. By then, non-availability of quality fish seed and lack of scientific culture know-how constrained the growth and further development of carp culture.

The technological breakthrough in induced breeding of carps through hypophysation in 1957 revolutionalized freshwater aquaculture of the country. With assured supply of quality seed, the techniques of seed rearing and grow-out culture of carps had undergone faster development and refinement through research and development made by the Pond Culture Division of the CIFRI and Government of India respectively, and further by their multi-locational trials by state governments. In fact, the development of freshwater aquaculture in the country only finally became recognized and established following the establishment of the Pond Culture Division at Cuttack in 1949 under the name of the Center of Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), West Bengal. Significant developments took place thereafter with the standardization of induced breeding techniques and the development of hatchery systems and composite carp culture with the three Indian major carps and three exotic carps, including silver and grass carp, forming the basis for carp polyculture system. An All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on ‘Composite Culture of Indian and Exotic Fishes’ initiated by the CIFRI during 1971 virtually laid the foundation for scientific carp farming in the country by demonstrating high production levels of 8–10 tonnes/ha/yr. Subsequently, three more AICRPs on ‘Spawn Prospecting’, ‘Air-breathing Fish Culture’ and ‘Brackish water Fish Culture’ were launched. With the ready availability of hormone formulations, the production of carp seed through induced breeding led to a tremendous fillip and subsequently, riverine seed collection and bundh breeding became obsolete. TheAll India Coordinated Research Projects (AICRP) on composite fish culture and fish seed production, launched by ICAR through CIFRI, Barrackpore, operated in 12 centres throughout the country until 1984, which virtually laid the foundation of scientific fish culture in India. Carp culture, thereupon, during the late 1980s has expanded its dimensions in terms of area coverage and intensity of operation, with Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, etc., taking up fish culture as a commercial farming enterprise. The research and development efforts during the last six decades have placed carp farming as an important economic enterprise as a fast growing industry. The national mean production levels from still-water ponds has gone up from about 600 kg/ha/year in 1974 to over 2.9 tonnes/ha/year at present, and several farmers are even demonstrating higher production levels of 8–12 tonnes/ha/year. While the focus was on the development of breeding and culture technologies for different species of carp, other species such as catfish, murrels and prawns were also addressed.

The culture systems adopted in the country vary greatly depending on the input available in any particular region as well as on the investment capabilities of the farmer. With the understanding of the biological basis of fish production, a series of systems are available with varying levels of inputs and outputs, and these can be categorized as low, medium and high input technologies.

Low – input system: The natural productivity of this system is increased by using low-cost inputs such as organic and inorganic fertilizers, aquatic weeds etc. The fertilizer based system make use of organic and inorganic fertilizers as major inputs besides stocking of carp seeds at low stocking densities up to 3 000/ha. In this system a fish production of around 2–3 tonnes/ha/year is achieved without any supplementary feeding. Slurry from biogas also can be used as good organic manure and fish culture with application of bio-gas slurry at fortnightly splits recorded fish production around 2 to 3 tonnes/ha/year without any supplementary feeding. Weed based system of carp culture at stocking density of 4 000-5 000 fingerlings/ha with grass carp as main component (40–50 percent) demonstrated production yields of around 3–4 tonnes/ha/year with no supplementary feed.

Medium – input system: In this system, supplementary feeding is provided apart from additional elements of fertilization for enhancing the fish production. Carp polyculture along with Indian Major carps alone or along with the three exotic carps tried in different agro – climatic conditions of India using judicious combination of feed and fertilizers, showed production levels of around 4–8 tonnes/ha/year. The main features of this technology also includes proper pond preparation, proper stocking density, periodic fertilization and regular feeding with oil-cake-bran mixture (protein 25–27 percent) coupled with water quality and fish health monitoring. Further, this technology has the scope for diversification through integration of other agricultural activities for increasing production and income, besides maximizing resource utilization. Livestock- based aquaculture utilizes wastes (both leftover feed and excreta) from poultry birds, ducks, rabbits, pigs or sheep/goats. Production rates ranging from 3 000 to 6 500 kg/ha/year were registered under different systems, with duck-cum-fish farming being the least and pig-cum-fish farming being the most productive.

High – input system: Higher stocking density combined with higher feed inputs is the typical characteristics of intensive culture system aimed at higher fish production from unit area. Such high input based culture system uses balanced diet together intensive aeration and water replenishment apart from other inputs as medicines, probiotics etc. for health monitoring. The contribution of fertilizers to fish production is comparatively low. Water exchange and aeration helps in reducing metabolite load from ponds. Production levels of around over 10-15 tonnes/ha/year have been possible and it is evident that while high production is not difficult from not drainable static ponds, increased water replenishment may be vital factor for maintaining higher growth and production.

Based on the production cycle, the carp culture is of single stocking-single harvest, single stocking – -multiple harvest and multiple stocking – multiple harvest or rotational type culture. The single stocking-single harvest method of culture is usually done for six months to one year. This method is followed in both traditional and semi-intensive practices. Semi-intensive method also makes use of single stocking-multiple harvest method where comparatively higher stocking density is maintained than that of single stocking-single harvest. As fish biomass in the pond increases, larger fishes are partially harvested at monthly intervals. In multi-stocking, multi-harvest, marketable size fishes are harvested from ponds at regular intervals with periodical restocking.

In addition, in India, the other types of fish culture also includes Sewage-fed fish culture which is not new as far as India is concerned. It is estimated that at present there are more than 130 wastewater aquaculture units in India covering about 10 000 ha. Almost 80 percent of these are located in West Bengal, where sewage is extensively used as a fertilizer for fish pond. One of the major sewage irrigated fisheries is in Kolkata, popularly known as Vidyarthi Spill area, which is presently known as Salt Lake. Simultaneously, sewage-fed fish culture started in four sites in India, namely: Nagpur, Bhilai, Chennai and Bhopal. In this culture practice, before stocking, bheries are dried up and sewage is allowed to enter bheri. After stabilization of effluents and after observing the plankton population, the bheries are stocked with advanced fingerlings @ 7 000–10 000/hectare. Normally, multiple stocking and multiple harvesting is adopted in bheries and fish are reared for 3–5 months, depending on the growth of the fish to reach a marketable size of 250–400 grams. In addition there is running water fish culture, wherein, the water from hill-streams/rivers are made to flow through a series of dug-out embankment ponds constructed along the course of the stream/river using diversion canals/pipes. This helps maintain a mild water flow through the culture ponds. Screens of fine meshed nets are erected at the inlet and outlet of the ponds to prevent the entry and escape of organisms to and from the ponds. While the management of battery ponds is similar to that of still water ponds, that of raceways is more towards cage culture with a near total dependence on artificial feeds and amenability to very high stocking densities.

Due to their unique taste, catfishes are considered a delicacy for fish consumers. Aquaculture in India has become an important sector that includes carps, catfishes and prawns. Lately, the Government of India has also identified catfish farming as a national priority and has emphasized on diversification of culture practices. The major chunk of catfish, however, comes from capture resources, which includes air-breathing and non air-breathing varieties. Amongst the catfishes, Clarias batrachus, an obligatory air-breathing catfish known as magur is the most preferred indigenous catfish in India. The culture of magur obtained impetus by the standardization of its breeding and grow-out farming techniques at the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), an ICAR fishery research institute, Bhubaneshwar. The fish is currently propagated on a large scale along the north-eastern regions, mainly the State of Assam. Twelve hatcheries are in place along the region. Of late, Government of India permitted culture of pangassius and tilapia species laying down strict guidelines as an alternative crop to carp fishes.

Heteropneustes fossilis, commonly known as singhi, contributing to about 15 percent of inland landings (mostly from eastern regions and some south Indian States), has potentials of mono- and polyculture (Clarias and Anabas).

Pangasius Spp.:
Pangasius pangasius, mainly estuarine habitant is found in Indian water bodies that are suitable for culturing in sewage-fed ponds and low-lying fallow waters. This catfish attains 1.0–1.3 kg. in second year and 3–4 kg. during third year under pond culture, which is similar to the growth rate in natural waters.

Pangasius sutchi, one of the swift growing catfishes was first introduced into India in the year 1995–1996 in the state of West Bengal from Thailand through Bangladesh. Initially farming was carried out in limited area in the States of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. This fish grows to 1–1.5 kg during one year. A minimum of 10–15 tonnes/hectare/year is harvested through due to culture of this fish. According to National Fisheries Development Board, Hyderabad estimates, since 2004 its farming has increased due to the commercial importance and by 2008 it is estimated that Pangasius is being farmed in an area of about 40 000 ha with an expected production of 1.80 to 2.20 lakhs tonnes. There is a growing interest among the farming community in other states as well to take up Pangasius culture in a larger extent, thus paving way for demand for its seed and for establishment of commercial scale hatcheries. Pangasius is being farmed under monoculture or polycuIture with carps. The Government of India has stipulated strict guidelines for regulating introduction of P.sutchi in the country and the guidelines clearly suggested keeping the upper limit of production to a level of 20 tonnes/hectare/year.

The Government of India has also permitted the exotic Oreochromis niloticus in aquaculture in late 2012, prescribing certain guidelines as a part of diversification of species for increasing overall fish production levels of the country. In addition, this fish represents lower level in food chain, and thus its culture would be economical and eco-friendly. As per guidelines, farming of only monosex male/sterile (through either hormonal manipulation or cross breeding) is permitted and species recommended is Nile tilapia or improved strains/hybrids of tilapia.

In addition to carp fish varieties, successful breeding and larval rearing of the giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) and the monsoon river prawn (M. malcolmsonii) provided scope for the farmers to diversify their culture practices. Among the commercially important freshwater prawns of India, three species, namely Macrobrachium rosenbergii, M. malcolmsonii and M. gangeticum, are suitable for aquaculture. Among the cultivable freshwater prawns, M. rosenbergii, the giant river prawn completely dominated the commercial freshwater prawn culture due to its superior cultivable attributes such as very fast growth, high market demand, hardiness, euryhaline nature and its compatibility to grow with cultivable fin-fishes such as Indian major carps, tilapia and catfishes – a viable option for enhancing farm income. The farmed production of M.rosenbergii in India has shown phenomenal increase since the mid-nineties until 2005. The production increasing from less than 178 tonnes in 1996 to 42 870 tonnes in 2005 (Source: FAO, 2008). Monoculture of M. rosenbergii has produced production levels of 1.0–1.5 tonnes/ha in a 7–8 month production cycle. During recent years, the freshwater prawn farming sector has witnessed quite impressive growth, recording a production of over 30 000 tonnes in 2002–2003 from approximately 35 000 ha of water. The State of Andhra Pradesh dominated the sector with over 73 percent of the total production in India (2007–2008) with more than 60 percent of the total water area dedicated to prawn farming (38 819 hectares), followed by West Bengal (4 744) (Source: MPEDA). Successful commercial production of scampi seed began in 1999 based on techniques developed by research at the College of Fisheries in Kochi during the early 1990s. Although there were 71 scampi hatcheries in India during the last decade including 43 in Andhra Pradesh with an installed production capacity of about 8 billion post larvae/year; currently only few are operating due to several technical and marketing issues. (C. MohanaKumar Nair, – College of Fisheries, Panagad, Kerala – and K.R.Salin, – KVK, Agriculture University, Kerala, Global Aquaculture Advocate, November/December, 2006).

State-wise details of Scampi production 2012-13*

Total 2011-12 Total 2012-13
Sl. No State Area (Ha) Prod. (MT) Productivity MT/Ha/Yr. Area (Ha) Prod. (MT) Productivity MT/Ha/Yr.
1 West Bengal 4 385 2 906 0 1 520 2 446 1.61
2 Orissa 743 513 0.69 886 592 0.67
3 Andhra Pradesh 485 475 0.98 280 174 0.62
4 Tamil Nadu 437 285 0.65 136 54 0.39
5 Kerala 161 52 0 48 6 0.12
6 Karnataka 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 Goa 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 Maharashtra 33 38 1.15 49 60 1.22
9 Gujarat 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 6 244 4 269 0.68 2 919 3 332 1.14

(Source: MPEDA, Kochi)
*Production from Aquaculture farms. This data provides production from monoculture farms only and does not include production from village ponds, reservoirs etc.

With a view to providing a greater thrust and boost to aquaculture research and development, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi reorganized the Fisheries Research Institutes in 1987, which led to the establishment of three separate institutes namely: the Central Institute on Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) at Bhubaneswar; the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) at Chennai and the National Research Centre on Coldwater Fisheries (NRCCWF) at Bhimtal in Nainital. The Pond Culture Division of CIFRI later integrated into CIFA which has been instrumental in the development of several technologies used in freshwater aquaculture and with their dissemination through a number of first line extension projects, namely the National Demonstration Project (NDP), Operational Research Project (ORP), Lab-to-Land Program (LLP), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Trainer’s Training Centre (TTC), Institution-Village Linkage Program (IVLP) and other Mission Mode Programs. The credit for the development of freshwater aquaculture in the country must also include a number of other agencies and programmes undertaken by the Union and state governments, besides several NGOs in different parts of the country.

With fisheries development being considered a state subject, each state has a full-fledged Fisheries Department; the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India also provides additional coordination of development programmes in the different states and provides for centrally sponsored projects. For encouraging and publicizing freshwater aquaculture, the Indian Government introduced a scheme known as the ‘Fish Farmers’ Development Agency (FFDA)’ during 1973–1974 at the state level. Currently, there are 422 FFDAs providing cover to the districts indicating major potential in the country.

Brackish water aquaculture
Brackish water aquaculture in India, though a traditional practice in bheries (manmade impoundments in coastal wetlands) of West Bengal and pokkali (salt resistant deepwater paddy) fields along the Kerala coast, the scientific farming in the country has been initiated only in early 1990s. In the traditional system of culture, tidal water is impounded in the inter-tidal mudflats by raising bunds. Tidal water with all assorted fish and shrimp seed is allowed to enter through sluice-gates during spring tides. Harvesting of marketable sized fish and shrimp is done regularly during spring tides through traps placed near the sluice gates. There is no manuring and feeding. Thus, with no additional input, except that of trapping the naturally bred juvenile fish and shrimp seed, these systems have been sustaining production levels between 500–750 kg/ha/year with shrimp contributing 20–25 percent of the total production. There are two types of shrimp culturing are traditionally practiced in Kerala in low-lying backwaters. In perennial fields, shrimp culture is carried out throughout the year using trap-and culture method. In seasonal fields, rice cultivation is carried out during monsoon months using local variety, ’Pokkali’, and after its harvest, shrimp culture is practiced by trapping tidal waters.

The importance and role of shrimp farming in India’s economy was realized in the early seventies, and the first Experimental Brackish water Fish Farm began in Kakdwip, West Bengal, by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1973. This was followed by an All-India Coordinated Research Project on Brackish water Fish Farming was started in 1975 by the ICAR with centres in West Bengal, Odisha, AndhraPradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Goa. Concurrently, shrimp seed production studies were initiated in Narakkal, near Kochi, in Kerala, by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute of ICAR. Large-scale development of shrimp farming took place only after 1988–1989 with the establishment of the commercial shrimp hatcheries by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA). In the late 1980s, MPEDA established the Andhra Pradesh Shrimp Seed Production Supply and Research Centre (TASPARC) based in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa Shrimp Seed Production Supply and Research Centre (OSPARC) based in Orissa which provided assistance and paved the way for the establishment of a number of private hatcheries. Further, a semi-intensive culture technology was demonstrated in a pilot-scale project by the MPEDA funded by the Department of Biotechnology. The semi-intensive farming technology demonstrated production levels reaching 4–6 tonnes/ha ( Surendran et al., 1991), and these demonstrations coupled with credit facilities from commercial banks and subsidies from the Marine Products Export Development Authority helped to boost the shrimp farming sector. In addition, a number of development schemes were initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India; including setting up of Brackish water Fish Farmers Development Agencies (BFDA) in the maritime states for the development of shrimp farming. This paved the way for the establishment of a number of shrimp hatcheries and farms in the coastal states in the early nineties. India witnessed a phenomenal increase in the area under shrimp farming which occurred between 1990–1994, and the growth rate was phenomenal till 1995. In fact, farmed shrimp production recorded over five-fold increase from 28 000 tonnes in 1988-89 to 144 346 tonnes in 2006-2007 and operating at around 100 000 tonnes over the years. More than 90 percent of the shrimp farmers in India are small land holders owning less than 2 hectares. Among the coastal states, Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of shrimp production in the country and the following table details the shrimp production in different states during 2012-13:

State-wise details of Tiger shrimp production 201213*

Total 2011-12 Total 2012-13
Sl. No State Area (ha) Production (MT ) Productivity MT /ha/yr Area (ha) Production (MT ) Productivity (MT /ha/yr)
1 West Bengal 48 558 45 999 0.95 48 410 52 581 1.09
2 Orissa 8 597 10 901 1.27 6 256 14 096 2.25
3 Andhra Pradesh 35 274 51 081 1.45 15 925 25 948 1.63
4 Tamil Nadu 5 360 12 097 2.26 6 293 17 220 2.74
5 Kerala 12 809 8 138 0.64 12 917 5 175 0.4
6 Karnataka 650 609 0.94 240 180 0.75
7 Goa 53 51 0.96 30 48 1.61
8 Maharashtra 1 098 1 721 1.57 1047 2 010 1.92
9 Gujarat 1 971 4 869 2.47 1 992 6 045 3.03
Total 114 370 135 465 1.18 93 110 123 303 1.32

* Production from Aquaculture farms

In India, brackish water aquaculture sector is largely based on farming of Penaeus monodon. Other shrimp species, i.e., Penaeus indicus, P. merguiensis and P. semisulcatus, are considered as potential ones and cultivation of Penaeus vannamei has been gaining momentum in the recent years. In India, a major shift in India’s policy on shrimp took place with the introduction of an exotic species of shrimp, viz, Penaeus vannamei. The pilot-scale introduction of P.vannamei initiated in 2003 and after a risk analysis study large-scale introduction has been permitted in 2009. The introduction of vannamei in India occurred under controlled conditions with a clear procedure laid down by the government. Initially, two companies, Sarat Seafood and BMR hatcheries, were given permission to import broodstock from approved countries and conduct trials in a restricted environment. The Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture and National Bureau for Fish Genetic Resources conducted the risk analysis for the introduction of vannamei in India. Following the risk analysis studies, the government decided for a large-scale introduction of commercial use of vannamei in 2009. P. vannamei importation and cultivation guidelines were prepared by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries. Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA), of the Government of India, Chennai is the agency for granting permission to import vannamei broodstock and for giving permissions for vannamei culture by farmers. To facilitate farmers in getting quality SPF vannameiseed, the Government of India set up a quarantine center at Chennai and all vannamei broodstock is allowed to enter India after the consignment is cleared at this quarantine center at Chennai. Currently, CAA has given permissions to farmers for farming vannamei in 22 715 hectares and allowed 135 hatcheries for importing vannamei broodstock for production and supply of quality SPF vannamei seed to farmers.

Among finfishes, technologies for breeding and seed production has been developed for barramundi, (Lates calcarifer) along with farming demonstrations. Some enterprising farmers in Tamilnadu have taken up seabass culture. High export prices of crabs have made fattening of species like (Scylla serrataand S.tranquebarica a remunerative farming practice. In addition, certain marine/brackish water fish species as milkfish (Chanos chanos), pearlspot (Etroplus suratensis) and mullets (Mugil spp.) have shown promises for commercial aquaculture in inland saline soil / water areas. Production potential ranging from 0.5 to 3 tonnes/hectare/year has been demonstrated from such waters.

State-wise details of P. vannamei production 2012-13*

Total 2011-12 Total 2012-13
Sl. No State Area (ha) Production (MT ) Productivity MT/ha/yr Area (ha) Production (MT ) Productivity MT /ha/yr
1 West Bengal 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Orissa 25 100 4.08 46 436 9.48
3 Andhra Pradesh 7 128 75 385 10.58 20 198 133 135 6.59
4 Tamil Nadu 397 2 863 7.21 1 511 8 595 5.69
5 Kerala 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 Karnataka 72 232 3.21 154 484 3.14
7 Goa 0 0 0 1 15 15
8 Maharashtra 127 941 7.41 439 1 503 3.42
9 Gujarat 88 1 195 13.59 366 3 348 9.14
Total 7 837 80 717 10.3 22 715 147 516 6.49

* Production from Aquaculture farms

Mariculture The earliest attempt at mariculture in India was made at the Mandapam centre of CMFRI in 1958–1959 with the culture of milkfish (Chanos chanos). Over the last three decades, CMFRI has developed various technologies for a number of species including oysters, mussels and clams among sedentary species, as well as for shrimps and finfish. Investigation of the culture possibilities for mussels was initiated in early 1970s by the CMFRI which resulted in the development of a range of practices for the culture of these species. Among maritime states, Kerala was the first to recognize the advantages of utilizing mussel farming technology in rural development, from a meagre production in 1997 where cultured mussel production rose to 1 250 tonnes in 2002 with over 250 mussel farms being established in the estuaries of Kerala. Mariculture, with technologies developed in the recent years, is an option for supplementing the marine capture fisheries and also gainful employment for the fisherfolk in the coastal areas. Mussels, oysters and seaweeds have been the main component of mariculture, with some posibilities of crab and lobster fattening. Green mussel, Perna viridis and Indian brown mussel, P.indica are the two important mussel species viable in the country, the culture technologies of which have been standardized.

The CMFRI initiated a pearl culture programme in 1972 and successfully developed the technology for pearl production in Indian pearl oysters, success in controlled breeding and spat production of the Japanese pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata) in 1981 and the blacklip pearl oyster (P. margaritifera) in 1984 was another important breakthrough. CMFRI also took the lead in the development of the technology required for edible oyster farming during the 1970s. Intensive research on various aspects of the culture of the Indian backwater oyster (Crassostrea madrasensis) has been made and the technology has also been developed for the hatchery production of seed.

Since the last decade, considerable changes have taken place in the diversification and production of mariculture in India. Most significant is the emergence of oyster and mussel farming as a commercial aquaculture programme, and the production estimate in 2007 was 10 044 tonnes. Apart from increased production, India has several new technological developments like tissue culture of marine pearls, hatchery techniques for lobsters and ornamental fishes that have potential to make an impact on the country’s economical development. In India, two species of marine mussels, namely, the green mussel (Perna viridis) and the Indian brown mussel (P. indica) are found in rocky coastal areas. In addition, commercial production of oysters in India started during the late nineties and increased to 2 400 tonnes in 2008. The available main oyster species in India include Crassostrea madrasensis(Indian backwater oyster), C. gryphoides, C. rivularis and Saccostrea cucullata and of these, the Indian backwater oyster, is the most preferred one for farming. Experiments were conducted in India to farm clam species and results have indicated feasibility of farming them in pen and on bottom methods. However, there is no commercial culture of clams, following strict farming practices, but a method of semi-culture, whereby fishers stock seed clams, which occur in the fishery in certain areas to be harvested later, is followed in some regions.

As far as marine fish farming is concerned, culture of Lethrinus, Epinephelus, Mugil cephalus, Chanos chanos, and Etroplus suratensis has been tried, either in monoculture or in the integrated systems. Pen and cage culture of finfish has been tried, but commercial semi-intensive and intensive farming is not yet practiced. Success has been achieved in the broodstock development and spawning of greasy grouper, Epinephelus tauvina, Lates calcarifer and M.cephalus. Out of three, larval rearing technology of Lates calcarifer has been commercialized.

During 2006–2009, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi, has made commendable progress in marine cage culture. In 2007, a cage of 3 m diameter and 4 m depth was floated in Vizhinjam Bay and stocked with juveniles of Caranx sexfasciatus of average size 81.7 mm and 7.8 g weight. Within four months, they grew to an average size of 210 mm (186 g). Sturdy open-sea cage culture protected by outer predator nets and special shock absorber to withstand and absorb pressure was moored at a depth of 11 m about 300 m from beach at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh State. About 1 350 barramundi, Lates calcarifer of 14.5 g seeds were stocked in the cage and reared by feeding low-value trash fish. After 125 days with a survival of 73 percent, 550 kg of barramundi weighing between 300g and 1 200 g were harvested. The barramundi cage culture is getting impetus due to availability of its seed and necessary funding provided by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), in Hyderabad.

Human resources

Although aquaculture in India has reached the status of an industry, assessment of human resources required for fisheries sector has always been a debatable issue, as it is yet to be objectively worked out. A realistic demand for human resources depends on several factors such as policy, future thrust areas of development, recruitment qualifications of major employers, national and international fisheries development scenarios, etc. A database with details of human resources in aquaculture and allied sectors is lacking due to the dispersed nature of aquaculture resources and non-availability of a suitable mechanism for data collection. In a study conducted in six major aquaculture producing Indian States (Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal), Bhatta (2003) reported the age of fish farmers ranged from 38 years in Andhra Pradesh to 58 years in Haryana, with a national average of 47 years. The educational status of these fish farmers varied from 0–10 years of schooling, a large percentage of these fish farmers practice aquaculture on a part-time basis with their involvement in the activity ranging from 17 man-days per annum in Karnataka to the highest of 75 man-days in West Bengal. This study also inferred that fish farming, though a part-time activity, contributes a major share of the income of these fish farmers, ranging from 14.98 percent in Orissa to 95.26 percent in Andhra Pradesh, with an average of 79.66 percent.

With the development of shrimp farming, the employment opportunities in coastal areas has increased greatly. The average labour requirement in shrimp farming has been estimated at about 600 labour days/crop/ha as against 180 labour days/crop/ha in the case of paddy field cultivation (Rao and Ravindran, 2001). Case studies carried out at a sea-based farm in the Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh showed an increase of 2–15 percent employment and 6–22 percent income for farm labourers following the establishment of shrimp farms (CIBA, 1997). In the brackish water sector, hatcheries and feed mills are also providing excellent employment opportunities and it has been estimated that over 300 000 jobs have been generated in the main and supporting sectors of the shrimp aquaculture sector in rural areas.

Farming systems distribution and characteristics

Aquaculture resources in India include 2.36 million ha of ponds and tanks, 0.798 million ha of flood plain lakes/derelict waters plus in addition 195 210 km of rivers and canals, 2.907 million ha of reservoirs and that could be utilized for aquaculture purposes. Ponds and tanks are the prime resources for freshwater aquaculture, however, only about 40 percent of the available area is used for aquaculture currently. Ponds in eastern India are typically homestead ponds of less than 1 ha in size, while the watersheds in western India are larger covering expanses of between 15–25 ha each. In northern India, open waters with in-flows are common, while southern India has watersheds, termed as tanks, largely used for crop irrigation. In several parts of the country ponds and tanks are state-owned or communal and are leased out for periods of 3–5 years.

It has been estimated that about 1.2 million ha of potential brackish water area available in India is suitable for farming. In addition to this, about 9.0 million ha of salt affected areas are also available. However, in shrimp culture, only 15 percent of the potential area has been put into culture purpose. The farming of shrimp is largely dependent on small holdings of less than 2 ha, these farms account for over 90 percent of the total area utilized for shrimp culture. Many of the farm holdings located in Kerala and West Bengal belong to the traditional systems of shrimp farming.

Carp hatcheries, in both the public and private sectors ,have contributed towards the increase in seed production from 16 589 million fry in 1999–2000 to over 21 000 million fry at present. Although there were 71 scampi hatcheries in the country, during the last decade including 43 in Andhra Pradesh with an installed capacity of about 8 billion post larvae per year. Furthermore, as far as shrimp seed production is concerned, although experimental hatcheries were in operation since the late seventies, commercial hatcheries were set up only in the late eighties. There are around 351 shrimp hatcheries in the country with a total production capacity of 14 billion PL20/year (Handbook of Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2013) meeting the seed requirement of the brackish water shrimp farming sector.

Freshwater aquaculture activity being an important activity, expanded its dimension in terms of area coverage and intensity of operation, with Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra etc, taking up fish culture as a commercial farming enterprise. Oflate scientific carp farming is picking up in the north-eastern states of India. Brackish water aquaculture is mainly concentrated on the coasts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and West Bengal. With regards to the market, while the main areas of consumption for freshwater fish are in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and northeastern India. Cultured brackish water shrimps are destined mainly for export.

Cultured species

While carp form the most important species farmed in freshwater in India, it is the shrimp from the brackish water sector which contributes the bulk of the production. The three Indian major carps, namely, catla (Catla catla), rohu labeo (Labeo rohita) and mrigal carp (Cirrhinus mrigala) contribute over 90 percent of the total Indian aquaculture production. Introduced during the 1970s into the carp polyculture system in the country, three exotic carps, namely, silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix); grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) now form a second important group. In spite of the fact that the country also possesses several other cultivable medium and minor carp species which show high regional demand, including, Labeo calbasu, L. fimbriatus, L. gonius, L. bata, L. ariza, Puntius sarana, Hypselobarbus pulchellus, H. kolus andAmblypharyngodon mola, as well as several others, commercial farming of these species has yet to take off. (Ayyappan and Jena, 2003).

Among the catfishes, Philippine catfish, ‘magur’ (Clarias batrachus) is the only species that has received a lot of attention. Stinging catfish, ‘Singhi’ (Heteropneustes fossilis) is another air-breathing catfish species being cultured to a certain extent in swamps and derelict water bodies, especially in the eastern states. In recent years, attempts have been made to develop the culture of fishes likePangasius pangasius,Pangasius sutchi, Oreochromis niloticus, Ompok pabda etc. The other finfish species of importance include climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), murrels (Channa striata andC. marulius), etc. Among the freshwater prawns, the giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii), is the most important species followed by the monsoon river prawn, M.malcolmsonii.

In an effort to develop useful traits of the species, a large number of hybrids were produced by crossing between Indian major carps and Chinese carps. Among Chinese carps, however, no significant advantages have been able to be established from these hybrids. Selective breeding programmes in roho labeo based on the combined selection method taken by CIFA at Bhubaneswar in collaboration with AKVAFORSK (Institute for Aquaculture Research from Norway) during the last ten years has led to the production of a genetically improved strain (known as Jayanti) which has shown over 50 percent higher growth rates in three generations. This improved strain has already become available in different parts of the country.

The brackish water aquaculture sector is mainly supported by shrimp production, as well as, the giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), which is responsible for the bulk of production followed by the recently introduced whiteleg shrimp, Penaeus vannamei. In fact, the culture of this shrimp picked up on par with tiger shrimp in very short span of time. Although India possesses several other potential species of finfish and shellfish, the production of these, is still very low key. In seawater, the major farmed species are the green mussel (Perna viridis), Indian brown mussel (Perna indica), Indian backwater oyster (Crassostrea madrasensis), Japanese pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata) and seaweed species like Gracilaria edulis.

Practices/systems of culture

Freshwater aquaculture
Culture of carp
Carp culture is based around the ‘polyculture’ of the three Indian major carps (catla, roho labeo and mrigal carp), as well as ‘composite carp culture’ of the three Indian major carps with the three exotic carps (silver, grass and common carp). Standard practices in carp culture include:

  • The stocking of carp at combined densities varies depending on the system of culture as detailed in the above paragraphs.
  • Pond fertilization with organic manures from cattle or poultry, as well as inorganic fertilizers like urea and single super phosphate.
  • Provision of supplementary feeds mainly in the form of a mixture of rice bran/wheat bran and groundnut/mustard oilcake in equal ratio.

The technology for such semi-intensive carp culture has been demonstrated and the carp culture was virtually revolutionized ultimately raising the average Indian production from still-water ponds from 0.6 tonnes/ha/year in 1974 to over 2.90 tonnes/ha/year at present.

Culture of catfish
The pond culture of catfish involves mainly Philippine catfish ‘magur’ (Clarias batrachus) is currently propagated on a large scale along the north-eastern regions, mainly in the State of Assam. While the stinging catfish, ‘singhi’ (Heteropneustes fossilis) has potentials of mono- and polyculture (Clarias andAnabas). Considering the high market demand for catfish and the availability of a huge potential resource in the form of swamps and derelict waters, commercial farming of these species are presently receiving important attention. Lately, with the introduction of Pangasius sutchi and Oreochromis niloticus, enterprising farmers are resorting to the culture of these fishes on commercial scale.

Culture of giant river prawn
The giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is the largest and fastest growing species being farmed and possesses considerable demand both in domestic and international markets. M. rosenbergiiis cultured either alone (monoculture) or in combination with carps (polyculture). The monoculture of giant river prawn is mostly confined to ponds with supplementary feeding and a production yield level of 1.0–1.5 tonnes/hectare in a 7–8 month production cycle using single stocking and both single/multiple harvesting. The polyculture of freshwater prawn juveniles carp has also been demonstrated to be economically viable.

Non-conventional culture systems
Sewage-fed fish culture and rice paddy-cum-fish culture are two important culture systems practiced in certain areas of the country; sewage-fed fish culture in bheries in West Bengal is an age-old practice. About 5 700 ha are currently being utilized for fish culture using the input of primary-treated sewage and produces over 7 000 tonnes of fish per annum, mainly consisting of the major and minor carps. The culture system usually involves multiple stocking and multiple harvesting approaches, with harvest size usually in the range of 300–500 g. Though stocking densities of 7 000–10 000 of advanced fingerlings per ha is prescribed. Normally, multiple stocking and multiple harvesting is adopted and fishes are reared for 3–5 months, depending on the growth of the fishes to reach marketable size of 250–400 g. (Handbook 0f Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2013).

Paddy-cum-fish culture is undertaken in medium to semi-deep water rice paddy fields in lowland areas with fairly strong dykes to prevent the escape of cultivated fish during floods, trenches and pond refuges in the paddy fields provide shelter for the fish. The modern concept of paddy-fish integration with rice-fish plot, digging of peripheral trenches, construction of dykes, nutrient utilization of pond refuge and sowing of improved varieties of rice and release of fish in trenches he; ped to harvest better yield of rice and fish. Fish ponds receive the crop residues as pond input.

Brackish water aquaculture
Brackish water aquaculture in India is restricted to shrimp farming utilizing semi-intensive culture practices mainly with giant tiger prawn at stocking densities of 0.1–0.3 million/ha. With the provision of a high protein diet, water exchange, aeration and improved health management, production levels of 4–6 tonnes/ha have been demonstrated in a production period of 4–5 months. However, the presence of white spot syndrome during 1994–1995 drastically reduced prawn farming activity in the late 1990s. The adoption of a more cautious approach including moderate stocking densities and good management practices has helped in the revival of the sector and in sustaining shrimp production of the country. Furthermore, with the recent introduction of Penaeus vannamei, the shrimp culture is again regaining its glory of export earner at large.

The status of mariculture is still low key, involving only a few shellfish species such as green mussel (Perna viridis) and Indian brown mussel (P. indica) using raft or long line culture methods; Indian backwater oyster (Crassostrea madrasensis) using rack and ren, and the rack and tray method; and the farming of Japanese pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata) by raft culture.

Sector performance

Aquaculture contributed over one third of the country’s total fish production of 9.06 million tonnes during 2012–2013. The total aquaculture production of 4.43 million tonnes was valued at US$ 3.5 billion of which carp alone was responsible for as much as 4.18 million tonnes.

Almost the total quantity of finfish produced by aquaculture is consumed on the domestic market, while shrimps and freshwater prawns are mainly exported. While people in eastern India prefer freshwater fish, people from southern India prefer marine fish and thus depend on the capture fisheries. As the second most important producer of freshwater fish after West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh markets the bulk of its produce to the eastern and northeastern states of India through an organized and established marketing network. Insulated trucks carrying iced fish are the principal means of transport over longer distances which can be over two thousand kilometers. The post-harvest processing of aquaculture produce other than for shrimps and freshwater prawn is almost non-existent in the country. The government has no regulatory control over the domestic marketing system for aquaculture products and the price is influenced by supply and demand, furthermore, no certification system is available for the sale of the fish on the domestic market. A good lot of modern wholesale and retail fish markets are developed by the National Fisheries Development Board.

The graph below shows total aquaculture production in India according to FAO statistics:

Reported aquaculture production in India (from 1950)
(FAO Fishery Statistic)
Market and trade

During 2012–2013, marine products exports reached an all-time high of Rs 18 856 crores (1 INR = 0.016 US$). Marine product exports, crossed all previous records in quantity, rupee value and US$ terms. Exports aggregated to 928 215 tonnes valued at Rs. 18 856.26 crores and USD 3 511.67 million. Compared to the previous year, seafood exports recorded a growth of 7.68 percent in quantity, 13.61 percent in rupee and 0.1 percent growth in US$ earnings, respectively. During 2012–2013, frozen shrimp from culture sector continued to be the major export value item accounting a share of 51.35 percent of the total US$ earnings. Shrimp exports during the period increased by 20.88 percent, 18.73 percent and 3.56 percent in quantity, rupee value and US$ value, respectively. There was a steep drop in unit value realization of frozen shrimp at 14.33 percent.

Fish, has retained its prime position as the principal export item in quantity terms and the second largest export item in value terms, accounted for a share of about 37.05 percent in quantity and 17.59 percent in US$ earnings. Unit value realization of fish decreased by 8.79 percent. Chilled items have shown a positive growth in quantity (26.27 percent), rupee value (50.27 percent) and US$ (34.91 percent). The unit value realization also increased by 6.84 percent.

South-east Asia continued to be the largest buyer of Indian marine products with a share of 23.12 percent in terms of US$ value realization. The European Union (EU) was the second largest market with a share of 22.14 percent followed by the United States of America (21.29 percent), Japan (10.61 percent), China (7.67 percent), Middle East (5.96 percent) and other countries by 9.22 percent. The Marine Products Export Development Authority since its inception has played a key role in formulating guidelines, as well as periodically modifying and implementing the development plan for export promotion in the country.

Post Harvest Infrastructure:
The country has the following post harvest infrastructure facilities for promotion of processing and exports of fishery products:

Table 1. Main institutions involved in aquaculture research and education in India.

Sl.No . Infrastructure component No.’s / capacity
1 Registered Exporters 1 060
2 Processing Plants 456
3 Total Installed Capacity (MT/day) 18 495
4 Frozen Storages 551
5 Frozen Storage Capacity (MT) 212 854
6 Pre-processing centres 614
7 Pre- processing capacity (MT/day) 11 483
8 EU approved Processing plants 262
Contribution to the economy

The fisheries sector contributes to the national income, exports, food and nutritional security and employment generation. As per the estimates of the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), of the Government of India, the value of GDP from fisheries sector at current prices during 2011–2012 was Rs 65 541 crores, which is 4.47 per cent of the total GDP of agriculture and allied sectors.

Fish contributes substantially to the domestic food security of India which has a per capita consumption of more than 6.00 kg per annum. With freshwater aquaculture being a homestead activity in several parts of the country, besides adding to the nutritional security it also helps in bringing additional income to rural households.

The network of 429 FFDAs has brought about 8.05 lakh ha of water under modern fish culture operations benefiting approximately 13,86 lakh beneficiaries. The rapid growth of the sector has generated huge employment opportunities for professional, skilled and semi-skilled workers for the different support activities such as construction and the management of farms, hatcheries, feed mills, processing units etc. It has been estimated that over 300 000 jobs have been generated in the brackish water sector alone in the main and supporting areas for shrimp culture, although information on exact numbers involved in aquaculture is not available.

Promotion and management of the sector
The institutional framework

The Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India has a Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Fisheries with a Division of Fisheries as the nodal agency. This agency is responsible for planning, monitoring and the funding of several centrally sponsored developmental schemes related to fisheries and aquaculture in all of the Indian States. Most of the states possess a separate Ministry for Fisheries or else it remains within the Ministry of Animal Husbandry. All states have well-organized fisheries departments, with fisheries executive officers at district level and fisheries extension officers at block level, who are involved in the overall development of the sector. However, the administrative structure at state levels varies from state to state. Centrally sponsored schemes like the 422 FFDAs cover almost all districts in the Country and the 39 BFDAs in the maritime districts have also contributed to aquaculture development.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research located within the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, which in turn is within the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, has a Division of Fisheries, which undertakes the R&D on aquaculture and fisheries through a number of research institutes. There are about 400 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Farm Science Centres) in the Country, operated through State Agricultural Universities, ICAR Research Institutes and NGOs, most of which also undertake aquaculture development within their scope of activities.

The MPEDA functioning under the Ministry of Commerce, besides its role in the export of aquatic products also contributes towards the promotion of coastal aquaculture. Many other organizations and agencies also support or conduct R&D in the subject and include the departments of Science and Technology; departments of Biotechnology, University Commission, NGOs and private industry.

The governing regulations

India is a federal republic, subdivided into 28 states and six union territories. According to the Constitution, the state legislatures have the power to make laws and regulations with respect to a number of subject-matters, including water (i.e. water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water power), land (i.e. rights in or over land, land tenure, transfer and alienation of agricultural land), fisheries, as well as the preservation, protection and improvement of stock and the prevention of animal disease. Although there are many laws and regulations that may be relevant to aquaculture adopted at state level, this overview only addresses those laws and regulations adopted by the central government.

At the central level, several key laws and regulations may be relevant to aquaculture. They include the century-old Indian Fisheries Act (1897) , which penalizes the killing of fish by poisoning water and by using explosives, and the Environment (Protection) Act (1986) , being an umbrella act containing provisions for all environment related issues. They also include the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974) and the Wild Life Protection Act (1972) . Essentially all this legislation must be read in conjunction with one another to gain a full picture of the rules that are applicable to aquaculture.

On 11 December 1996, the Indian Supreme Court handed out an historic decision with major implications for the aquaculture sector in a case regarding the setting up of shrimp farms in coastal areas. The Supreme Court – among other things – prohibited the construction/set up of shrimp culture ponds within the Coastal Regulation Zone and within 1000 meters of Chilka Lake and Pulika Lake, except traditional and improved traditional types of ponds. It also ruled that an authority should be constituted to protect the ecologically fragile coastal areas, sea shore, water front and other coastal areas and specially to deal with the situation created by the shrimp culture industry in the coastal states/union territories.

To perform the functions indicated by the Supreme Court, Notification SO 88 (E) (1997)  established the Aquaculture Authority, in accordance with the Environment (Protection) Act. The Authority, to which specific responsibilities for aquaculture have been allocated, falls under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture.

For more information on aquaculture legislation in India please click on the following link:
National Aquaculture Legislation Overview – India

Applied research, education and training

ICAR, the nodal agency for agricultural research in India, has eight fisheries research institutes of which three are mainly responsible for research into aquaculture, these are CIFA, located in Bhubaneswar, on freshwater aquaculture; CIBA, in Chennai, on brackish water aquaculture and CMFRI, in Kochi, on mariculture. Furthermore, the National Research Centre for Coldwater Fisheries in Bhimtal is concerned with cold water fisheries and aquaculture. These institutes are given specific mandates to formulate research programmes depending on national priorities; their regional centres located in different agro-ecological regions also undertake research on problems of regional importance. While the research programmes are set depending on national priority and regional necessity, farmers’ feedback is also given due emphasis. In addition, recommendations drawn from national level meetings, seminars and workshops help in prioritizing these research programmes. Each of the institutions also has several other mechanisms to prioritize research and evaluation through the Research Advisory Committee and Quinquennial Review Team constituted by ICAR. The Scientific Audit Teams, audit the research programmes and in addition, the Social Audit Team, headed by Members of Parliament, also evaluates the impact of the institutes on the society as a whole. The fisheries colleges within the different State Agriculture Universities, as well as other universities and organizations also undertake aquaculture research.

Important technologies developed by the different research institutes have undergone multi-site testing in different agro-climatic conditions by the All India Coordinator Research Projects and Operational Research Projects funded by ICAR. Over the years, ICAR has launched several other programmes to develop greater research-farmer interaction including the Lab-to-Land Programme, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Rural Aquaculture Projects, the Institutions-Village-Linkage Programme, etc. The institutes transfer the developed techniques and technology through research publications in national and international journals, manuals and pamphlets in regional languages and training programmes, also on-farm demonstrations in several cases. Professional fisheries education in India is offered principally by 19 Fisheries Colleges through four-year degree courses (Bachelor of Fisheries Science) followed by two-year masters degrees (Master of Fisheries Science) and Ph.D in some colleges. At the state level, the training programmes are mainly dealt with by the FFDAs and BFDAs. Electronic media like radio and television also play a major role in the dissemination of the emerging technologies through specific programmes at regular intervals.

Main institutions involved in aquaculture research and education in India

Research Institutes City/State
Central Institute of Freshwater aquaculture Bhubaneswar
Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture Chennai
Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute Cochin
Educational Institutes
Central Institute of Fisheries Education Mumbai
College of Fishery Science (19 in number) Andhra Pradesh(1), Assam(1), Bihar(2), Chhattisgarh(1), Gujarat(1), Jammu & Kashmir(1) Karnataka(1), Kerala(1), Maharashtra(3), Orissa(1), Rajasthan (1), Tamil Nadu(1), Tripura(1), Uttaranchal(1), Uttarpradesh(1) and West Bengal(1)
Trends, issues and development

Aquaculture in the past ten years has witnessed both horizontal and vertical expansion, with total production increasing from 0.37 million tonnes in 1980 to 4.43 million tonnes during 2012–2013, an increase of over 12 fold. Conventional farming practices using carp, as well as an increased emphasis on diversified culture of freshwater prawns and to some extent catfish, are important areas of growth in the freshwater aquaculture sector. Greater adoption of modern farming techniques and assured higher profit margins in carp culture over most other agricultural enterprises has attracted farmers to fish farming. Freshwater aquaculture has further witnessed diversification through the incorporation of high valued species like freshwater prawn and has increased its production from 455 tonnes in 1992 to over 30 000 tonnes in 2003.

The early 1990s witnessed a spectacular rise in farmed shrimp production with an increase from 35 500 tonnes in 1991–1992 to 82 850 tonnes in 1994–1995. Furthermore, the sector took almost 4–5 years to revive following the damage inflicted by the white spot syndrome. A cautious approach and the adoption of good management practices subsequently, helped the sector to reach a record production of 270 819 tonnes during 2012–2013 from approximately 115 826 ha area under production. A high export potential backed by an assured supply of quality seed through the establishment of large numbers of shrimp hatcheries, the availability of other critical inputs like formulated feed, easily accessed institutional finance, increased entrepreneurial involvement, the entry of several privately owned large companies and above all higher profit margins were the guiding force behind such high growth during last decade.

Aquaculture over recent years has not only led to substantial socio-economic benefits such as increased nutritional levels, income, employment and foreign exchange, but has also brought vast un-utilized and under-utilized land and water resources under culture. With freshwater aquaculture being compatible with other farming systems, it is largely environmentally friendly and provides for recycling and utilization of several types of organic wastes. Over the years, however, culture practices have undergone considerable intensification and with the possibility of obtaining high productivity levels there has been a state of flux between the different farming practices. In the brackish water sector there were issues of waste generation, conversion of agricultural land, salinization, degradation of soil and the environment due to the extensive use of drugs and chemicals, destruction of mangroves and so on. Though some of these issues posed concerns, most however, were isolated instances with the bulk of farming conforming to eco-requirements.