A draft national policy on mariculture has mooted mariculture zones by demarcating special areas in the sea for different mariculture activities such as cage farming, bivalve farming, pen culture, seaweed culture, hatcheries and nurseries based on scientific criteria
KOCHI, 4 October 2018: A draft national policy on mariculture has mooted mariculture zones by demarcating special areas in the sea for different mariculture activities such as cage farming, bivalve farming, pen culture, seaweed culture, hatcheries and nurseries based on scientific criteria.
The draft policy was formulated by an expert committee formed by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) with Dr A Gopalakrishnan, Director of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) as chairman. The document is now available in public document for comments from all stakeholders and interested groups.
The policy aims to enhance mariculture production in the country and increase income and employment opportunities in a sustainable way, in addition to promoting entrepreneurship in mariculture by facilitating technical and financial inputs.
According to the policy, satellite remote sensing data and GIS will be used to identify potential zones for mariculture on the basis of scientific evaluation of environmental parameters suitable for various types of farming avoiding conflict other users and protecting livelihoods of local fishing communities. Sea areas identified in this manner will be designated as mariculture technology parks by the respective states.
MPAs, ecologically sensitive areas like coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, and other coastal areas with strategic interest would not be considered for mariculture zones. In a bid to support fish breeding, culture, packaging and trade, the policy proposes encouraging to set up off-shore technology parks and coastal embankment systems.
Leasing and Regulation
Referring to the security of the mariculture enterprises in the open sea waters, the policy has made provisions for leasing the water bodies and regulating the activities through changes in the law. All mariculture farms in the sea would operate only in an area leased out for the purpose by the respective maritime States. In addition, the State would register and license all farms for a specific period ensuring all protection to the farm assets.
Touching upon the selection of the species for the farming, exotic and genetically modified (GM) species will not be permitted for open sea culture even though the policy allows to farm those species in closed mariculture systems after stringent risk assessment and monitoring.
In order to address the seed scarcity, innovative schemes will be developed for the setting up of hatcheries, seed farms, rearing units and specific pathogen free (SPF) or genetically improved brood banks.
Insurance and financial assistance
The policy advises the government to formulate special financial assistance programmes, including prioritized lending schemes, subsidised credit and investment subsidies, to promote mariculture. Since there are no substantial initiatives in place currently to insure mariculture enterprises, the government is also advised to introduce suitable insurance schemes to plug this gap and to encourage private insurance companies to develop insurance solutions for the sector.
The national policy on mariculture also touches upon scores of areas such as market support, food safety and health management, ecolabelling and certification, capacity building, legal frame work, etc.
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