Ornamental Aquaculture Club Kerala
Category : Updates
As an additional program to the Vakkom project announced earlier in the week Organic Life (OL) and Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) today organised a Workshop on nurturing the entrepreneurship opportunities in aquarium fish seed production, culture and trade among the unemployed youth of Kerala State, India at Snehasena Hall, Kaloor, Ernakulam, Cochin.
The inauguration was honoured by Her Worshipful Mayor of Kochi, Smt. Soumini Jain; Dr. A Gopalakrishnan, Director, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute; Rev. Fr. Vincent Pereppadan, “Snehasena”; Smt.Sathyavathi, Executive Director Society for Assisting Fisherwomen, at State Fisheries Department; C.T. Varghese, Global Mariner and Dr. Vinod Malayilethu, Senior Coordinator, WWF.
Roy Palmer, AwF’s Executive Director, said “We are extremely grateful to International Aquafeed magazine (www.perendale.com) for having the vision to sponsor this important workshop. The outcomes of the workshop were to address the unemployment problem among the youth of Kerala by highlighting the prospects that can be created through Ornamental Fish Culture and Trade; investigating the aspects of quarantine and certification and ensuring quality products; exploring the opportunity of domestic and international ornamental fish trade. We were delighted that the audience supported the concept and agreed to collaborate through the creation of the Ornamental Aquaculture Club Kerala (OACK).”
Her Worshipful Mayor of Kochi described ornamental fish culture business as excellent, having practiced the activity herself and having been successful but wondering why people were not taking up the business to make Kochi a lead player in the industry.
The Mayor added “Indigenous fishers have excellent overseas markets and the Marine Product Export Development Authority are giving good support but because of the lack of awareness it is still in its infancy. Cochin Corporation will give all the support it can to strengthen this sector not only through rural but also through urban communities.”
Dr. A Gopalakrishnan gave a detailed account on the potential of the Western Ghats and associated water bodies highlighting Kerala’s rich aquatic resources including 44 rivers and 34 backwaters which offer immense potential to become a key player in the ornamental fish trade.
Smt.Sathyavathi, SAF, added that there had been an increase in the cultivation of ornamental marine species and SAF will now ensure that women are more engaged and involved through this sector.
Everyone was delighted that Dr. Anna Mercy (AwF Woman of the Month – February 2015) was engaged at the workshop. Dr. Mercy explained the activities undertaken by her University (where they adopted a whole village by making everyone a part of the program) were continuing to have a positive impact on the villagers’ daily income.
As a specialist in this area, having many years of successful engagement Dr. Mercy was one of the array of experts who presented at the day-long workshop. Other notable speakers were Dr. Janine Pierce (PhotoVoice); Dr. Boby Ignatius (scope of cultured ornamental fish); Dr. Raja Swaminathan (Disease); Dr. Bibha Kumari (Teamwork) and Shri. M.M.Venugopal (practical Aquarium construction).
Mrs. Geeji Madathil Tharanath, OL’s President, said “Ornamental fish keeping is the second most popular hobby in the world. Since the turn of the century it has greatly changed its status from a hobby to a renewable, sustainable and profitable business opportunity. Ornamental aquarium fish is now a multi-billion business with a total turnover in excess of US$8 billion per annum. The sector, if planned well, can provide plentiful job opportunities to the rural people through various avenues such as breeding and rearing of ornamental fishes; setting and maintenance of the aquarium tanks and selling/marketing. We will be working with AwF on the training program built around addressing these critical issues and will help the stakeholders and thus the industry on improving the current situation through various scientific and business tools and resources. The collective initiatives of AwF and OL through this Workshop are to keep the ball rolling through a farmer-friendly program. The participants who were trained in this program will be given continuous project support through the joint activity of AwF through the team members of OL. This initial training program was limited to 50 participants from all over Kerala and we have been overwhelmed with interest.”
 The Western Ghats bordering the eastern side of the State is one of the 34 hot spots of bio diversity in the world. The rivers originating from the Ghats are the home of more than 240 species of endemic fishes out of which more than 120 are of high ornamental value. Fish like beautiful cyprinids, colorful loaches and pretty catfishes are some of them. A typical example is Puntius denisonii, commonly known as the ‘red- lined torpedo barb’, is a globally renewed aquarium species due to its vivid color pattern and high adaptability to the aquarium environment. It has been widely exported from the State for the last two and a half decades bringing in high export earnings to the country. At the same time, it should be noted, that the collection of ‘wild’ fish by conventional methods has negative impact to the ecosystem and needs to be discouraged. Industry, at present, dwells between the problems of conservation issues and the temptation of market demand. Development of standards built around captive breeding protocols and adoption of these techniques by the farmers are ways forward for the comprehensive development of this sector.