An all-India network project on ornamental fish breeding and culture, a collaborative research project involving seven fisheries research institutes across the country, was launched here on Saturday.

Aimed at developing adequate technologies in breeding, seed production and culture of freshwater and marine ornamental species, and helping maintain the sustainability of the industry, the project has seven fisheries research institutes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, partnering with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

Speaking at the event, ICAR Deputy Director General J.K. Jena said there was a need for a strong linkage between researchers and industry partners in the ornamental fish sector in the country to utilise the potential resources available in India. He also said that the network research project would address issues facing ornamental fish industry in India.

“Though the potential for the development of ornamental fish trade in India is immense, a proper mechanism is yet to be established to boost both overseas and domestic trade of the varieties. The Government of India has identified this sector as one of the thrust areas for development to augment exports. For the trade to prosper, the three pre-requisites are quality, quantity, and sustainability.

In India, marine ornamental fish species diversity is rich in the reef area of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, Gulf of Mannar, and Gulf of Kutch. The freshwater ornamental fish resources are rich in the rivers and streams of the Western Ghats and northeast India,” he added.

“The project envisages scores of objectives including the development of ornamental fish villages with strong marketing ties,” CMFRI Director A. Gopalakrishnan said.

“It [project] focuses on developing a value chain approach from seed collection, culture and export of various ornamental varieties by ensuring environmental and socio-economic sustainability, product quality and overseas access to ornamental fish industry in India,” he said.

Technology for ornamental fish breeding and culture, a major thrust of the project, will provide additional income to rural and urban people as well and generate employment opportunities.

The Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), Bhubaneshwar; Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), Barrackpore; National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR), Lucknow; Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), Chennai; Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, and Directorate of Coldwater Fishery Research (DCFR), Bhimtal, Uttarakhand, are the other research institutes involved in the network project.

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