Indian aquaculture has demonstrated a six and half fold growth over the last two decades, with freshwater aquaculture contributing over 95 percent of the total aquaculture production. The production of carp in freshwater and shrimps in brackishwater form the major areas of activity. The three Indian major carps, namely catla (Catla catla ), rohu (Labeo rohita ) and mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala ) contribute the bulk of production with over 1.8 million tonnes (FAO, 2003); followed by silver carp, grass carp and common carp forming a second important group. Average national production from still water ponds has increased from 0.6 tonnes/ha/year in 1974 to 2.2 tonnes/ha/year by 2001–2002 (Tripathi, 2003), with several farmers even demonstrating production levels as high as 8–12 tonnes/ha/year. The technologies of induced carp breeding and polyculture in static ponds and tanks virtually revolutionised the freshwater aquaculture sector and turned the sector into a fast growing industry. The research and development programs of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as well as the development support provided by the Indian Government through a network of Fish Farmers' Development Agencies and Brackishwater Fish Farmers' Development Agencies have been the principal vehicles for this development, additional support has been provided by several other organisations, departments and financial institutions. The farming of gian river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii ) has gained increased interest in recent years, due to its high economic value and an annual production of over 30 000 tonnes has been achieved through the use of monoculture practices. In addition, the sector has been witnessing increased interest in diversification with the inclusion of high-valued species, including medium and minor carps, catfishes, murrels etc. While carp and other finfishes are grown for the domestic market, a large proportion of freshwater prawn production is exported. In contrast, the development of brackish water aquaculture has been confined to a single species, Penaeus monodon , the scientific farming of which began only recently during the early 1990s. The area devoted to shrimp farming extends to as much as 152 000 ha producing approximately 115 000 tonnes, the majority of which is destined for export.
Aquaculture in India, in general, is practised with the utilisation of low to moderate levels of inputs, especially organic-based fertilisers and feed. India utilises only about 40 percent of the available 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks for freshwater aquaculture and 13 percent of a total potential brackishwater resource of 1.2 million hectares, in other words there is room for both horizontal and vertical expansion of these sectors. With over 8 000 km of coastline there is immense potential for the development of mariculture which has taken roots only in recent years with culture of mussels and oysters. Considering the substantial contribution aquaculture makes towards socio-economic development in terms of income and employment through the use of unutilised and underutilised resources in several regions of the country, environmentally friendly aquaculture has been accepted as a vehicle for rural development, food and nutritional security for the rural masses. It also has immense potential as a foreign exchange earner. Greater R&D support with strong linkages between research and development agencies, increased investment in fish and prawn hatcheries, establishment of aquaculture estates, feed mills and ancillary industries have all been identified as important areas for maintaining the pace of growth of the sector.
Aquaculture in India has a long history, there are 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 river conditions are simulated). Fish culture received notable attention in Tamil Nadu (formerly the state of Madras) as early as 1911, subsequently, states such as Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Mysore and Hyderabad initiated fish culture through the establishment of Fisheries Departments.
The development of freshwater aquaculture in the country only finally became 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 standardisation 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 systems. 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 'Brackishwater 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. The late 1980s saw the dawn of aquaculture in India and transformed fish culture into a more modern enterprise. 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. While extensive aquaculture is carried out in comparatively large water bodies with stocking of the fish seed as the only input beyond utilising natural productivity, elements of fertilisation and feeding have been introduced into semi-intensive culture. The different culture systems that have been standardised with optimum achievable production rates are:
With a view to providing a greater boost to aquaculture research and development, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi reorganised 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 programs undertaken in different parts of the country.
With fisheries development being considered a state subject, each state has a fully fledged Fisheries Department, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India also provides additional coordination of development programs in the different states and provides for centrally sponsored projects. For encouraging and publicising freshwater aquaculture, the Indian government introduced a scheme known as the 'Fish Farmers' Development Agency (FFDA)' during 1973–1974 at the State level, presently there are 422 FFDAs providing cover to the districts indicating major potential in the country.
Brackishwater farming in India is an age-old system confined mainly to the bheries (manmade impoundments in coastal wetlands) of West Bengal and pokkali (salt resistant deepwater paddy) fields along the Kerala coast. With no additional input, except that of trapping the naturally bred juvenile fish and shrimp seed, these systems have been sustaining production levels of between 500–750 kg/ha/year with shrimp contributing 20–25 percent of the total. The importance of brackishwater aquaculture was recognised only after the initiation of an All India Coordinated Research Project, (AICRP) on 'Brackishwater Fish Farming' by ICAR in 1973. The project developed several technologies pertaining to fish and shrimp farming, however, scientific and commercial culture at present is restricted to farming of shrimps.
With the development of more commercial hatcheries, a phenomenal increase in the area under shrimp farming occurred between 1990–1994, the formation of Brackishwater Fish Farmers' Development Agencies (BFDA) in the maritime states and the implementation of various Governmental programs to provide support to the shrimp farming sector assisted with its further development. Demonstrations of semi-intensive farming technology with production levels reaching 4–6 tonnes/ha (Surendran et al ., 1991), coupled with credit facilities from commercial banks and subsidies from the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) helped boost the shrimp farming sector. Farmed shrimp production increased from 40 000 tonnes in 1991–1992 to 115 000 tonnes in 2002–2003. Currently about 91 percent of the shrimp farmers in India own less than 2 ha, 6 percent between 2 to 5 ha and the remaining 3 percent have an area of greater than 5 ha. Out of the total area of 0.152 million ha presently being utilised for shrimp farming in the country, Andhra Pradesh alone provides 47 percent of the area and contributes 50 percent of the total production.
Studies on maturation and the breeding of shrimps were initiated by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in the early 1970s. In the late 1980s MPEDA established the Andhra Pradesh Shrimp Seed Production and Research Centre (TASPARC) and the Andhra Pradesh and Orissa Shrimp Seed Production and Research Centre (OSPARC) based in Orissa which provided assistance for the establishment of a number of private hatcheries. At present about 237 shrimp hatcheries operate in the country providing a total production capacity of 11.425 billion PL 20/year (Anon, 2002).
In India, commercial cultivation of brackishwater finfish is almost non-existent, though experiments on monoculture as well as the polyculture of milkfish, pearl-spot, mullets and sand whiting have shown their potential for farming.
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.
The CMFRI initiated a pearl culture program 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 ) have been made and the technology has also been developed for the hatchery production of seed.
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. 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 recognise the advantages of utilizing mussel farming technology in rural development, from a meagre production in 1997 cultured mussel production rose to 1 250 tonnes in 2002 with over 250 mussel farms being established in the estuaries of Kerala.
Although aquaculture in India has reached the status of an industry, 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 between 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 brackishwater 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.
Aquaculture resources in India include 2.36 million ha of ponds and tanks, 1.07 million ha of beels, jheels and derelict waters plus in addition 0.12 million km of canals, 3.15 million ha of reservoirs and 0.72 million ha of upland lakes that could be utilised for aquaculture purposes. Ponds and tanks are the prime resources for freshwater aquaculture, however, only about 0.8–0.9 million ha 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 brackishwater area available in India is suitable for farming, in addition to this, around 8.5 million ha of salt affected areas are also available, of which about 2.6 million ha could be exclusively utilised for aquaculture due to the unsuitability of these resources for other agriculture based activities. However, the total area under cultivation is only just over 13 percent of the potential water area available. The farming of shrimp is largely dependant on small holdings of less than 2 ha, these farms account for over 90 percent of the total area utilised for shrimp culture, while large holdings of over 10 ha account for only 1.54 percent of the total. 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 6 321 million fry in 1985–1986 to over 18 500 million fry at present. There are 35 freshwater prawn hatcheries in the coastal states producing over 200 million seed per annum. Furthermore, the 237 shrimp hatcheries with a production capacity of approximately 11.425 billion post larvae per year are meeting the seed requirement of the brackish water shrimp farming sector.
Freshwater aquaculture activity is prominent in the eastern part of the country, particularly the states of West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh with new areas coming under culture in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Assam and Tripura. Brackishwater 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 north-eastern India, cultured brackishwater shrimps are destined mainly for export.
While carp form the most important species farmed in freshwater in India, it is the shrimp from the brackishwater sector which contributes the bulk of the production. The three Indian major carps, namely, catla (Catla catla ), rohu (Labeo rohita ) and mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala ) contribute as much as 87 percent of the total Indian aquaculture production. Introduced during the 1970s into the carp polyculture systems 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, together constituting as much as 0.169 million tonnes (2002). 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 , Cirrhinus mrigala , Puntius sarana , Hypselobarbus pulchellus , H. kolus and Amblypharyngodon mola as well as several others, commercial farming of these species has been almost non-existent (Ayyappan and Jena, 2003).
Among the catfishes, walking catfish, 'magur' (Clarias batrachus ) is the only species that has received much 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 non-air breathing catfishes like Pangasius pangasius , Wallago attu , Sperata seenghala , S. aor and Ompok pabda . The other finfish species of importance include climbing perch (Anabas testudineus ), murrels (Channa striata and C. marulius ) and tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus and Oreochromis niloticus ). Among the freshwater prawns, the giant river prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii ), is the most important species followed by the monsoon river prawn, M. malcolmsonii .
Introduced in 1952, tilapia posed a serious threat to aquaculture systems due to its prolific breeding capabilities which forced the country to ban the species for farming in 1959; however, tilapia is still available in most parts of the country.
In an effort to develop the species positive or useful traits a large number of hybrids were produced by crossing between Indian major carps, between Indian major carps and Chinese carps and among Chinese carps, however, no significant advantages have been able to be established from these hybrids. Selective breeding programs in rohu based on the combined selection method taken by CIFA at Bhubaneswar in collaboration with AKVAFORSK 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 brackishwater aquaculture sector is mainly supported by shrimp production as well as giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon ), which are responsible for the bulk of production followed by the Indian white prawn, P. indicus . Although India possesses several other potential species of finfish and shellfish, production of these is still very low key. In seawater the major farmed species are the green mussel (Perna viridis ), brown mussel (Perna indica ), Indian backwater oyster (Crassostrea madrasensis ), Japanese pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata ) and seaweed species like Gracilaria edulis .
Culture of carp
Carp culture is based around the 'polyculture' of the three Indian major carps (catla, rohu and mrigal) 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:
Culture of catfish
The pond culture of catfish involves mainly magur (Clarias batrachus ) and singhi (Heteropneustes fossilis ) and is practised in states like Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. Though modern farming techniques for these species advocates monoculture at stocking densities of 20 000–50 000 fingerlings/ha, inadequate availability of juveniles has restricted these as a component in carp polyculture systems. 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 being given important attention at present.
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. rosenbergii is cultured either alone (monoculture) or in combination with carps (polyculture). The monoculture of giant river prawn is mostly confined to earthen ponds with moderate stocking densities of between 20 000–50 000/ha, fertilisation and supplementary feeding can result in a moderate yield of 600–1 000 kg/ha/8 months using single stocking and both single/multiple harvesting. The polyculture of freshwater prawn juveniles as densities at 10 000–15 000/ha alongside carp at 3 000–4 000/ha 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 is presently utilised 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 10 000–20 000/ha are common, densities as high as 50 000/ha has also been reported from several farms. Experimental results have shown high potential productivity from these systems with the record production reaching over 9 tonnes of fish/ha/year. Recently aquaculture has also been employed as a major option for the treatment of domestic sewage.
Paddy-cum-fish culture is undertaken in medium to semi-deepwater 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 system mostly relies on natural stocking, however, modern farming techniques involving major and minor carps stocked at the densities of 5 000–10 000/ha alongside freshwater prawn are also practiced in several areas. Production levels of 3.5 tonnes of rice and 0.5–1.0 tonne of fish/ha can be achieved in a well-managed paddy-cum-fish farming systems within a year.
Brackishwater aquaculture in India is restricted to shrimp farming utilising 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.
The status of mariculture is still low key, involving only a few shellfish species such as green mussel (Perna viridis ) and brown mussel (P. indica ) using raft or longline 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.
Aquaculture contributed over one third of the country's total fish production of 6.1 million tonnes in 2003. The total aquaculture production of 2.2 million tonnes was valued at US$ 2.5 billion of which carp alone was responsible for as much as 1.87 million tonnes. On the other hand the production of high value shellfish species namely, giant river prawn produced 30 000 tonnes while shrimps from brackishwater, mainly P. monodon produced 115 000 tonnes.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Denmark according to FAO statistics:
Freshwater carp and shrimp from brackishwater are the principal aquaculture species produced in India, 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 of eastern India prefer freshwater fish, people from southern Indian 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 in the eastern and north-eastern states of India through an organised and established marketing network. Insulated trucks carrying ice 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 produce 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. During 2002–2003, cultured shrimp and prawn contributed 65.7 percent of the total shrimp and prawn exports, mainly in frozen form and with a value of over US$ 0.80 billion. The USA has emerged as the single largest importer during 2002–2003 relegating Japan to second position, 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.
The share of fisheries towards total agricultural GDP has increased impressively during the last five years, from 0.84 percent in 1950–1951 to 4.19 percent in 1999–2000 (Anjani Kumar, 2003). Information on the contribution of aquaculture alone is not currently available.
Fish contributes substantially to the domestic food security of India which has a per capita consumption of 8 kg. 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 422 FFDAs has brought about 0.456 million ha of water under modern fish culture operations benefiting approximately 830 000 people. 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 brackishwater sector alone in the main and supporting areas for shrimp culture, although information on exact numbers involved in aquaculture is not available.
The Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of India has a Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, with a Division of Fisheries as the nodal agency. This agency is responsible for planning, monitoring and the funding of several centrally sponsored development 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-organised 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 tern 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 organisations and agencies also support or conduct R&D in the subject and include the departments of Science and Technology; departments of Biotechnology, University Grant Commissions, NGOs and private industry.
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
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 brackishwater 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 programs depending on national priorities; their regional centres located in different agro-ecological regions also undertake research on problems of regional importance. While the research programs 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 prioritising these research programs. Each of the institutions also has several other mechanisms to prioritise research and evaluation through the Research Advisory Committee and Quinquennial Review Team constituted by ICAR. The Scientific Audit Teams audit the research programs 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 organisations 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 have launched several other programs to develop greater research-farmer interaction including the Lab-to-Land Program, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Rural Aquaculture Projects, the Institutions-Village-Linkage Program, 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 programs, also on-farm demonstrations in several cases. Professional fisheries education in India is offered principally by 12 Fisheries Colleges through four-year degree courses (Bachelor of Fisheries Science) followed by two-year masters degrees (Master of Fisheries Science) and Ph.Ds in some colleges. At the state level, the training programs 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 programs at regular intervals.
Table 1. Main institutions involved in aquaculture research and education in India.
Aquaculture in the past ten years has witnessed both horizontal and vertical expansion, with total production increasing from 1.395 million tonnes in 1992 to 2.202 million tonnes in 2001, an increase of over 57 percent. 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 40 000 tonnes in 1991–1992 to 82 900 tonnes in 1994. Furthermore, the sector took almost 4–5 years to revive following the damage inflicted by white spot syndrome. A cautious approach and the adoption of good management practices subsequently helped the sector to reach a record production of 115 000 tonnes in 2002–2003 from approximately 152 000 ha 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-utilised and under-utilised 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 utilisation 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 brackishwater 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.
Anjani, K. , Joshi, P.K. & Pratap, S.B. 2003 . Fisheries Sector in India: An Overview of Performance, Policies and Programmes. In: Anjani, K., Pradeep, K.K. & Joshi, P.K. (Eds.), A Profile of People, Technologies and Policies in Fisheries Sector in India. pp.1–16.
Anon. 2002 . Aquaculture Authority News. Vol.1(2), December, 2002.
Ayyappan, S. & Jena, J.K. 2003 . Grow-out production of carps in India. J. Appl. Aqua., 13(3/4): 251–282.
Bhatta, R. 2003 .Socio-economic Issues in fisheries sector in India. In: Anjani, K., Pradeep, K.K. & Joshi, P.K. (Eds.), A Profile of People, Technologies and Policies in Fisheries Sector in India. pp.17–42.
CIBA . 1997 . Final Report: Assessment of Ground realities regarding the impact of shrimp farming activities on environment in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Mimeo.
FAO . 2005 . Aquaculture production, 2003. Yearbook of Fishery Statistics - Vol.96/2. Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Gopakumar, K. , Ayyappan, S. , Jena, J.K. , Sahoo, S.K. , Sarkar, S.K. , Satapathy, B.B. & Nayak, P.K. 1999 . National Freshwater Aquaculture Development Plan. Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar, India.
Rao, G.R.M. & Ravichandran, P. 2001 . Sustainable Brackishwater Aquaculture. In: Pandian, T.J. (Eds.), Sustainable Indian Fisheries, National Academy of Agricultural Science, New Delhi, pp. 134–151.
Surendran, V. , Madhusudhan Reddy, K. & Subba Rao, V. 1991 . Semi-intensive shrimp farming-TASPARC's experience at Nellore. Fishing Chimes, February 1991: 23–29.
Tripathi, S.D. 2003 . Inland Fisheries in India. In: Fish for All National Launch, 18–19 December 2003, Kolkata, India, pp. 33–57.