MUMBAI: A marine ornamental fish hatchery centre, the first of its kind in the state, was inaugurated at the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre, Airoli, by forest minister Sudhir Mungatiwar on Wednesday, World Environment Day.
The facility has different species of clownfish, such as Percula, Ocellaris, Tomato, Shunk and Fire Clown, as they have good demand in the domestic as well as international markets. The hatchery will empower the local fishing community and boost production of ornamental fish in the state.
"We have now 60 pairs of species of clownfish," said Dr Ajith Kumar, scientist at National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR), engaged in developing the Airoli hatchery.
N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator, mangrove cell, told TOI, "After rearing fish at the centre for two months, they will be sold to women from the fishing community across Maharashtra. Over 60 women, who have been shortlisted, will engage in the business initially."
The hatchery unit has more than 50 tanks for larvae and around 25 tanks for adult clownfish. "Apart from tanks for clownfish rearing, there will be separate tanks for larvae. Clownfish are one of the most sought-after breeds in the ornamental fish industry," said a mangrove cell official.
The concept is to provide means of livelihood to villagers occupying the mangrove belt in exchange for mangrove conservation at the community level. "We will provide training, along with tanks and filtration units. Besides, 90% of the cost will be borne by us. We want to include activities that suit the fishing community. We are using fish bred in captivity. This will help in conservation efforts. Initially, the hatchery is likely to produce at least 5, 000 fish," said Vasudevan.