Oh fish! Mumbai to get a breeding centre soon

Mumbai is set to get its own marine ornamental fish breeding centre, the second in the country after Chennai.

mumbai Updated: Apr 12, 2018 10:39 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai’s own marine ornamental fish breeding centre is the second in the country after Chennai.(State mangrove cell)

To curb the exploitation of fish breeds that feed the trade in ornamental species for aquariums, the state mangrove cell will be creating Mumbai’s very own fish breeding centre at Airoli in Navi Mumbai.After Chennai, Mumbai will be the second city in India to have such a centre and it is expected to be ready in the next six months.

The centre will comprise of a hatchery, where selective breeding of 16 species of clown fish ( a popular aquaarium pet) and the blue damsel (a saltwater aquarium fish native to Indian and western Pacific Oceans) will be carried out.

These specimen will then be sent to various coastal villages in the state adopted by the cell so they can be provided further nourishment and protection. It is a part of the cell’s coastal livelihood scheme, said officials.

“Among the many livelihood activities being promoted by the state mangrove cell, marine ornamental fish culture holds tremendous potential. Since technology that can convert freshwater to the equivalent of seawater is now available, the demand for ornamental fish species, especially for aquariums is tremendous. The market value of clown fish is more than Rs1,000 per fish. To ensure over exploitation does not take place, we have begun selective breeding,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest, state mangrove cell.

Ornamental aquaculture prevents habitat destruction and over exploitation of selected species, hence it is a long-term sustainable solution. It is economically viable compared to marine food fish culture, and hatchery-bred individuals survive longer, said mangrove cell officials.

“These are fish species which can be bred in captivity. These species are currently collected from the wild. This will eventually deplete the natural resources, and thus, we want to ensure that their natural stock is replenished through this process,” said Vasudevan.

On April 30 last year, the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre – a first-of-its-kind centre to study India’s marine ecology – was inaugurated in Airoli.

An existing dilapidated structure located in the same premises will be revamped over the next six months and converted into the marine ornamental fish breeding centre, spread across 50 metres,” said Vasudevan.

“We will be constructing fish tanks to breed 1-cm fishlings. The first month is the most crucial, as it requires the right food, algae and proper care for the species. Following this, they will be transported to 60 villages adopted by us across the Konkan coast for mangrove conservation, where they will be grown to full size and exported or sold domestically by the local communities. We will create groups of 10 women in each village,” he said.

“Based on the success of the project, we will be add another 40 villages under the programme. This will create employment opportunities for over 1,000 families.”

Marine biologists said it was a wonderful initiative that protects the environment and provides livelihood opportunities for small and medium fishing communities.

“What we are talking about here is utilizing the environment for betterment of economy of the marginal fishermen. Big fishermen have all amenities to find the fish they need, small fishermen fail to acquire these ornamental species, and this project will help them tremendously. On the flip side, captive breeding will take care of protecting the population and develop a stronger ecosystem,” said Sivabalan Athmaraman, marine biologist.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 10:39 IST