KOCHI: The fifth international symposium on Cage Aquaculture in Asia (CAA5) started with strong words of caution against jumping into the cage aquaculture (CA) bandwagon blindly believing the “inflated figures of production and profit” projected by government organisations. The CA is purely a business activity and it is inappropriate to promote it as a poverty alleviation programme, experts pointed out.
Taking a highly critical look at the hype over the CA in India, Dr Mohan Joseph Modayil, former member of Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, opined that the populist objectives like poverty alleviation, livelihood, rural food and nutritional security, feeding the millions etc are just hype and said that the real objective and outcome of CA is business.
He also warned that that the “unregulated spread of the new initiatives across the Asian region is bound to boomerang just as the shrimp aquaculture did in the past.”
‘’To produce more is the new mantra and there is no harm in doing that. But safeguards should be taken to see to it that intensive production is not at the cost of ecology and health. It should be done responsibly and sustainably’’, Dr Mohan cautioned. “Greening the Blue Revolution is very important,” he added.
In the theme paper presented at the CAA5, the former ASRB member and former director of the CMFRI pointed out that CA using trash fish as feed is not a green practice and hence it should be stopped. “There is nothing called bycatch...everything is targeted catch. Use of the socalled bycatch for CA should be discouraged and stopped.”
A recent study conducted by experts of CMFRI on the ‘Sardine Economy in Kerala’ had pointed out that export for fish meal industry might take a good part of the oil sardine away from the common man’s daily diet. As in the CMFRI study, Dr Mohan also points to the gross imbalance of intake of low value fish as meal in cage farming to produce high valued protein making it inaccessable to the poor.
Experts also warn against the possible ecological impact of use of antibiotics and chemicals in cage aquaculture.
█ In Indian conditions 3.3 kg of pelletted feed/ 9 kg of trash fish needed to produce 1 kg of cage-farmed fish
█ If pelleted feed is used at Rs 35/kg, farm gate price of fish will be over Rs 500/kg
█ Will have to be cautious about the dangers of introducing alien species
█ Dangers of alien virus, parasites, diseases
█ Unless used judiciously, antibiotics used in CA can contaminate fish and ecology