Krishna backwaters turn hub of mariculture in A.P.

A nearly 25 km stretch of the backwater channel in the Krishna estuary is flourishing with mariculture, for which it has emerged as a hub in Andhra Pradesh. High-value fish varieties like Asian sea bass and Indian pompano are being successfully cultivated here.

It’s the prime livelihood option for many families belonging to some Scheduled Castes and Yanadi tribe people living by the backwaters along the stretch in Nagayalanka, Pedapalem and Edurumondi in the Diviseema region.

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI-Visakhapatnam), the National Fisheries Development Board, NABARD and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF-Chennai) are encouraging mariculture in the Krishna estuary by extending technical, scientific and financial assistance to the local communities.

Humble beginning

A decade ago, the CMFRI experimented on cage cultivation in support of a Diviseema-based progressive farmer, T. Raghu Sekhar, who later popularised it in the Krishna estuary.

“At least 80 floating cages have been installed by the CMFRI and funded by the NFDB. A majority of them are owned by Dalit families and Yanadi tribe people in which they cultivate Indian pampano. Mariculture is a lifeline for the landless poor,” says Mr. Raghu Sekhar.

CMFRI-Visakhapatnam in-charge scientist Subhadeep Ghosh tells The Hindu: “In Andhra Pradesh, the Krishna estuary has emerged as the hub for mariculture in the brackish water. Since 2019-20, we have installed nearly 80 high density polyethylene (HDP) and galvanised iron (GI) cages here. The cages float on the water. We have already harvested a crop of Indian pompano.”

UN role

The MSSRF has chosen to promote the cultivation of Asian sea bass variety through the floating cages. MSSRF coastal systems research principal coordinator R. Ramasubramanyan says, “We have installed 10 cages, providing livelihood options with the adaptation fund granted by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The timely supply of seed and training will yield more results in mariculture, apart from uplifting the landless families.”

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