Visakhapatnam: The southern region of Andhra Pradesh along the coast, is infested with rampant illegal shrimp farming causing severe damage to crops and harm to environment.
Aquaculture is being taken up in over 1,200 hectares in north Andhra, namely Vizag, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts.
This activity is being carried out illegally on another 1,050 hectares in the region with no action being taken by officials who ignore it.
Despite there being several rules governing aquaculture, some influential persons have been flouting these norms by taking up illegal shrimp farming. “The increase in salinity levels have created panic in the north as a result of illegal aquaculture,” says Dr B. Gangaram of the CPM in Vizag.
Sources say that aquaculture is being taken up over 1.29 lakh hectares in the state. Illegal shrimp farming continues on over 54,000 hectares in nine districts of the state. Krishna, West Godavari, Guntur and East Godavari districts are involved in the illegal trade. Those behind this trade manage to acquire free power supply.
They even resort to theft of electricity, for provide oxygen for shrimp. The authorities of SPDCL and EPDCL (discoms) have expressed outrage over the power pilferage that came to light during the surprise raids on illegal shrimp tanks and ponds. There is a nexus that exists between the revenue department and illegal operators in the state,
“The identification of agricultural and non-agricultural land is the main problem. Illegal activities of this nature cannot be undertaken without the connivance of revenue officials and discoms staff,” said V. Laxman, a farmer.
The district collectors have asked all revenue officials in the state, to submit a comprehensive report on illegal aquaculture. But the revenue department has not yet started the exercise.
Also, the vigilance wing of the electricity department has been collecting monthly ‘mamools.’
Vannamei prawns demand hits a high
Demand for ‘Vannamei’ shrimp has doubled in the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh with more people preferring Vannamei (ie. white-legged) shrimps over marine ones, citing freshness, taste and ‘better quality’.
President of Visakha Dolphin Boat Owners' Welfare Association Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy said that exotic Vannamei shrimps produced in large quantities by aquaculture firms in coastal Andhra, has hit fishermen who capture the brown fish variant in the Bay of Bengal.
“Due to the heavy demand for Vannamei, in the overseas market because of its low cost and ‘high culinary’ value, over 70 per cent of seafood exporters at the
Vizag Fishing Harbour are only buying prawns which are captured from the sea.
“This is forcing fishermen to sell high-quality prawns, in the domestic market at lower prices,” he added.
The Vannamei variety of prawn cultivation is attracting more traders from East Godavari and Krishna districts to Vizag and the Srikakulam coast.
With the demand for Vannamei growing in the region, illegal aquaculture is also mushrooming in several places, observed the fishermen in the region.
The Fisheries Department and Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA) will be conducting a joint survey on the extent of prawn and shrimp ponds, along the North Andhra coast through the global positioning system (GPS), it is learnt....