A growing number of unauthorized shrimp farms has pushed India’s Andhra Pradesh government to come up with a plan to declare so-called “aqua zones” across the state.
The recently proposed zones are intended to streamline aquaculture development in the state by more closely regulating land and water use. Paired with a proposed new regulatory plan and the creation of a state-level aquaculture authority, the government hopes to crack down on illegal farms, eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in shrimp farming, and impose more regular product testing at existing aquaculture labs, according to the Times of India.
A government-appointed task force studying the issue further recommended the state government has to impose stringent penalties on hatcheries and larval rearing centers in the state, which they said are avoiding set protocols.
Fishing and aquaculture represent major industries in Andhra Pradesh, located in India’s southeast. Total fisheries production in 2017 was 1.96 million metric tons valued at INR 160 billion (USD 2.51 billion, EUR 2.02 billion). The state government has called for a doubling of fish production in the next five years to 4.2 million metric tons and a target total value of INR 800 billion (USD 12.59 billion, EUR 10.12 billion).
The introduction of aqua zones would be a first in India. The proposed plan calls for 181 aqua clusters, covering 1,248 villages. Besides serving a regulatory role, the clusters would act to more easily identify various diseases in shrimp and fish, allow for more orderly and legal expansion of production areas, facilitate fish seed-stocking in potential inland water bodies, and enable the promotion of alternate species in aquaculture, according to the Times of India.
As part of its current fisheries plan, Andhra Pradesh’s government is also seeking to establish freshwater fish brood-banks, reform deep-sea fisheries, increase marketing of the state’s products, and promote more sustainable processes and systems for both wild-capture and aquaculture operations in the state.
Andhra Pradesh state has 13 districts in total, including nine districts that have a combined 974 kilometers of coastline. The total marine fishermen population in the state is around 605,000 and seagoing fishermen total around 150,000. There are an estimated 29,195 fishing vessels in Andhra Pradesh, composed of 12,747 motorized craft, 1,771 mechanized vessels, and 14,677 traditional craft. There are four fishing harbors, 353 fish landing centers, and 555 fishing villages.