With disease a critical threat, scientists look for new ways to revive India’s shrimp aquaculture sector
Decades after white spot syndrome wiped out most of India's native shrimp species, scientists at the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) are working on solving the problem that caused the die-off.
Currently, shrimp farmers in India primarily farm Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), which have been imported from the United States since 2009, and which account for 90 percent of shrimp farmed in the South Asian country. Scientists at the institute believe that India should not depend on only one species and that there is a need to develop aquaculture of species native to the region.
Citing an example, scientists affiliated with CIBA said aquaculture operations in China work with at least 10 species of shrimp, so that if disease strikes, the toll is not catastrophic.
The institute’s scientists said that the sooner action is taken, the better, as cases of Enterocytozoon Hepatopenaei (EHP) and microsporidial infections have recently been reported, as well as signs of the dreaded white spot virus.
CIBA has submitted a detailed project report to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Diary and Fisheries (DOAHDF) seeking financial assistance to popularize the Indian white shrimp. As part of the project, the institute is also working on genetically improving the local varieties to better compete with Pacific white shrimp, which is in great demand in global markets.
CIBA has initiated this project with the funding from the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB). It’s currently studying the performance potential of the Indian white shrimp, with tests carried out in six coastal states, including Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.
To provide disease-free seeds of Indian white shrimp, three hatcheries – one in Odisha and two either from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, or Gujarat – will be selected, the institute said.
CIBA is also working on how to increase productivity of Indian white shrimp from brackish water shrimp systems and aiming for an average yield of four to eight metric tons per year in high-density cultures.
In addition, the institute is also working on establishing healthy brood banks, with capacities of 90 million quality seed of Indian white shrimp and a feed mill that will provide cost-effective feed designed to increase the productivity of India’s shrimp farms.