The State government on Tuesday indicated that it would be bringing out a brackish water aquaculture policy and was in the process of identifying the potential areas, where aquaculture can be promoted in a big way. The task of area mapping has been entrusted to the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA).
K Gopal, principal secretary to the department of Animal Husbandry, Diary and Fisheries, told Express, on the sidelines of a farmers’ conclave organised as part of the World Brackishwater Aquaculture Conference, that rough estimates suggest there are about 50,000 hectares in the State where aquaculture can be taken up.
“However, a scientific study has to be carried out to arrive at the exact number. We have asked CIBA to conduct the micro-level study in all 13 coastal districts of the State. The initial data set will be ready in six months after which a comprehensive policy will be evolved,” Gopal said.
Tamil Nadu is gifted with a long coastline of 1,076 km with hundreds of acres of estuaries, backwaters and salt affected areas, where brackishwater aquaculture can be taken up. Gopal said Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules do not permit aquaculture activities within two km from High Tide Line (HTL). “Also, we have to approach cautiously as some of the other States faced serious environmental concerns. Besides, Tamil Nadu is vulnerable to sea erosion and seawater intrusion. So, scientific and sustainable practices factoring environmental concerns should be adopted,” he said.
K K Vijayan, director, CIBA, told Express that Tamil Nadu has huge potential and was a leader in brackishwater aquaculture in the past.
“It would take one year to complete the digital mapping. We want to conduct a season-to-season mapping where we can assess water depth, salinity levels and temperature in a particular waterbody. This will give a realistic outlook and help policy-makers take appropriate decision,” he said.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and eminent farming scientist MS Swaminathan said fisheries played a key role in achieving nutrition security.
B Meenakumari, chairperson of National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), said there are about 3.9 million hectares of estuary, and 3.5 million hectares of brackish waters available in India. In addition, 1.2 million hectares of coastal areas and 8.5 million hectares of salt affected areas are available, which are potential areas for aquaculture. Currently, only 1.94 million hectares are under culture, of which 1.67 million hectares are in shrimp farming alone. Out of total $900 million global turnover in imports and exports, India’s share is only $1.7 million.