initial problems of shrimp aquaculture in india

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    Problems faced by Indian aquaculture units in early 1990s

    Shrimp aquaculture operations had started on the East Coast of India,

    around 1990. The variety cultivated was mostly Black Tiger, which was

    the variety in demand in international markets.The activity was so

    profitable that large areas of paddy (rice) fields were converted to salt

    water shrimp aquaculture. The production from the farms was raw

    material for a (mostly) thriving industry exporting frozen shrimp to USA,

    Japan and Europe.

    In 1994, an unidentified viral disease started attacking the shrimp farms

    in North lndia and many parts of Andhra Pradesh, which is the leading

    state in India for Aquaculture Development. The disease was called white

    spot disease and resulted in sudden mortality of the shrimps, resulting in

    heavy financial loss. The farmers were not in a position to control the viral

    attack due to lack of experience and non-availability of expert advice. The

    farms had also been developed haphazardly, without thought being given

    to good practices or for the sustainability of the industry. The disease

    spread very fast to the rest of the aqua farms in the country and the entire

    country was affected in two months from first sighting the problem.

    MPEDA, the nodal agency for development of Aquaculture in the country,

    also was not in a position to advise the farmers correctly and counter the

    viral attack. As part of the attempts to contain the disease, MPEDA

    declared a crop holiday for six months from March 1995. Farmers were

    advised to keep the farm dry and exposed to sunlight.

    Due to the Crop holiday declared by MPEDA, the farms did not go for a

    crop till October 1995.

    Meanwhile, aquaculture experts were invited from abroad to find a

    solution or the problem. Experts from Thailand. Taiwan and Indonesia

    were brought to India for studying the situation. The experts visited the

    farms in Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu and suggested application of

    vitamins, probiotics and irnmunostimulants to increase the immunity of the

    animals in order to fight the viral attack. They also suggested certain

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    changes in the design of the farm. These medicines and modifications

    were very costly and increased the expenditure of farming by ten to fifteen

    percent. Some farmers, as per the expert advise further invested in the

    farm for changing the water intake system to a semi closed one by

    building a large reservoir to store and disinfect the water before filling the

    ponds. After the modification the farmers went for a new crop in October

    -November 1995. Even after the modifications and the importing of

    immunostimulants and other expensive medicines the second crop was

    destroyed by viral attack.

    Meanwhile, public interest litigations had been filed against salt water

    aquaculture, alleging that it polluted the coastal aquifers. The High Court

    of Madras, in October 1996, ordered the closure of all Aqua Farms in

    Tamil Nadu with immediate effect and asked the District Government

    authorities to file compliance with in a weeks time. The order was kept in

    suspense by the same bench since the Supreme Court of India was

    hearing a similar case. The Supreme Court came out with its verdict,

    which ordered the demolition of all farms within the Coastal Regulation

    Zone before March 31, 1997. It further ordered the companies to pay

    compensation to the workers at the rate of six years salary computed on

    the basis of the salary last drawn by the employees.

    The farms could not continue the aquaculture activity due to the Supreme

    Court ban. Since then the farms were lying idle without creating any

    income for the farmers. The farms being on the seashore, the rate of

    corrosion is very high for the machinery like pumps, generator sets,

    aerators, and pipes etc.

    The workers in the farms who were in different unions, demanded

    compensation as per the Supreme Court order and started agitating. They

    turned violent and resorted to destruction of the properties of the farms.

    The problems faced by the farms are summarised hereunder.

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    a. Virus disease affecting the aquaculture farms all along the East Coast.

    b. Order of the Supreme Court to ban aquaculture in Coastal Regulation

    Zone.

    c. Labour problems at the farms.

    Coastal Aquaculture in India has revived after establishment of a

    statutory body, Coastal Aquaculture Authority of India, who regulate

    aquaculture and have enabled it to revive, in a healthy manner.

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