Shrimp farming should avoid antibiotics, says expert

Quality standards in main export destinations are getting stringent everyday.

Kochi: The aquaculture-based shrimp farming, the mainstay of the $ 7-billion marine products export from the country, must focus more on a sustainable farming culture without using any antibiotics, according to Shaji Baby John, a pioneer of aquaculture shrimp farming in the country. He told reporters here that the quality standards in the main export destinations were getting stringent everyday and “we needed to be ready to face the situation.”

“The countries in European Union have already instructed exporters that antibiotics presence will not be tolerated and such consignments will be rejected in future,” said Shaji, who is also the chairman and managing director of Kings Group of companies. Other major export destinations like the US and Japan will also adopt such quality standards soon, he said. Projecting a bright future for the Indian marine products industry, he said that the sector needed to be organised on a sustainable model with adoption of latest technology standards.

“We can take on China, the global leader in aquaculture production, with proper planning and technology adoption and diversification of products,” Shaji said. The formation of a department of fisheries by the union government is a positive step in this direction, he added. China has a production of 49 million tonnes of aquaculture while India is way below with 6 million tonnes.

The need of the hour is a technology up-gradation fund for sustainable aquaculture development (TUFSA), he opined. TUFSA coupled with an integrated management approach comprising coastal and inland aquaculture would be a fillip in bettering the livelihood, employment prospects and protein intake of rural population.

Kings Group recently launched its STQC (sustainable, traceable, quality certified) aquaculture hub model at Chippikulam, Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, ensuring responsibly grown fishes, whose back history could be traced back. “We are expanding this to larger areas by transferring technology developed by our R&D to farmers. It covers the entire gamut of seafood exports’ value chain right from brood stock availability,” Shaji said.

Technology transfer includes setting up of open-cycle re-circulating aquaculture systems incorporating biological controls and aqua-mimicry for a disease-free multi-tropic farming practice.

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