The fish pearlspot (Etroplus suratensis) known as “Karimeen” in Kerala is an excellent table fish of delicacy, fetching a good market price up to Rs.350/kg. It can be farmed under extensive and intensive farming in freshwater and salt water eco-systems in ponds and cages. It is a very hardy fish, easy to propagate and culture in large scale depending upon the capacity of the Entrepreneur and farmer. The pearlspot can be farmed in home stead ponds in the backyards of houses which can serve as an occupation for poverty alleviation and high valued fish production in states like Kerala. Considering the potential of the fish, the Kerala state declared pearlspot as “Fish of the State”.
The Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), Chennai has developed an innovative technology for easy propagation of the fish by breeding them under controlled conditions by providing suitable environmental conditions to the fish. At its Muttukadu Field Centre, CIBA has successfully developed a captive broodstock of pearlspot fish in cages from diverse genetic pool (from Pulicat, Muttukadu in Tamil Nadu and Kumarakam in Kerala) and established a simple and effective facility for consistent seed production of this fish species. An average of 1200 juveniles can be obtained from a pair of parent fishes. The Matsya Kerala Scheme has taken up a massive programme for the farming of brackishwater fishes on large scale and due to this, demand for the quality pearlspot fish juveniles has increased. The expertise of CIBA scientists and technicians under the leadership of Dr. Natarajan on the production of pearlspot seed can complement in meeting the demand. As a beginning, on 2nd July 2011, the hatchery prod u ced seeds of pearlspot were supplied to Women Self Help Group fish farmers from Kerala. The seed supply was inaugurated by Shri Basudeb Acharia, Hon’ble Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture in the presence of other Members of the Parliamentary Committee at Muttukkadu Experimental Station of CIBA. The Kerala State Fisheries Department officials Shri K.J. Prasanna Kumar, Dr Neetha, Dr Sophia, Dr Rachael and Smt Priya were also present for receiving the seed from CIBA. The WSHG representatives from Thodiyoor, Kaikulangara, Karichira, Parinadu, Kalluvathakal, Kottiyam, Sakthikulangara and Punalur in Kerala received the seed.
This development has been subsequently published in English and Malayalam newspapers as well as in international news feeds.
The CIBA, Chennai has approached the Kerala Government to extend its know-how and expertise with regard to this technology for seed production and grow-out of pearlspot fish, as well as in their other programs to promote pearlspot fish production in the state. Efforts are also being made to promote pearlspot fish culture in derelict inland saline wetlands of Karnataka.
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