Indian institute develops indigenous hatchery technology for grey mullet

India’s Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) has introduced a hatchery technology for grey mullet, a high-value commercial fish, for the first time in the country.

In a statement released last week, CIBA said local farmers have waited for the technology for more than three decades. The innovation is expected to facilitate the Indian government’s targets to raise fish production under its blue revolution initiatives.

During a 28 January event, the fish fingerlings and feeds produced by the institute were distributed to farmers from three states, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala.

Grey mullet is a local favorite due to its taste, texture, nutritional value, and ease of cooking. Its market price ranges from INR 350 to INR 500 (USD 4.80 to USD 6.80, EUR 4.00 to EUR 5.60) per kilogram, with the species suitable for raising in both brackish-water and marine farming facilities, with potential output of four metric tons (MT) per hectare, CIBA said.

CIBA Director KK Vijayan told SeafoodSource that grey mullet is a highly-sought-after fish in India and its major export markets. However, efforts to develop breeding and hatchery technologies for it have not been successful until now due mainly to challenges in maturation, breeding, and reproductive dysfunction. The fish’s annual reproduction period takes place in just a few weeks during monsoon season, making it difficult for carrying out captive breeding activities in India, Vijayan said.

CIBA started the project to breed grey mullet in 2015 and achieved a success in breeding and larval production between 2017 and 2018. Vijayan said the institute has now been able to produce its third batch of fingerlings.

“For the scaling up, we need to increase the breeding window from two months to at least six months, this could be achieved in the next two to three years, so that the seed production could be scaled up,” Vijayan said. “As there is ready demand for the fish from the farmers, automatically we could see the farmed production of grey mullet in India.”

CIBA has cooperated with a number of local farmers to raise the fish seeds at their farms, using formulated feeds developed by the institute. CIBA has a plan to buy back the fish from the farmers for further breeding and seed production.

“Our model is once the technology is developed and demonstrated, including it economic viability, the scaling up needs to be done by private sector or government-aided agencies,” Vijayan said.


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