CMFRI identifies 342 sites for large-scale seaweed farming

ICAR’s Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) conducted geo-references of 342 agricultural sites in the country over 24,167 hectares of seagrass. These sites have the potential to produce 9.7 million tons (wet weight) of seaweed annually.

According to A Gopalakrishnan, Director of CMFRI, India has cultivated around 34,000 tons of seaweed in 2021 and this needs to be increased.

At a national campaign on “non-traditional aquaculture systems” organized by CMFRI as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (India’s 75th Independence Anniversary), he said, referring to global production, which is 35 million tonnes worth $16.5 billion. Far in 2022. India is far behind in terms of seaweed production.”

Under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), the government has allocated Rs 640 crore for a target production of more than 11.2 lakh tonnes of seaweed by 2025, he said.

Integrated aquaculture

CMFRI has standardized Integrated Polytrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) practices, which enables cage farming or bivalve farming along with seaweed farming in coastal waters, said Gopalakrishnan, adding that this will help popularize and promote seaweed farming in coastal countries.

In terms of potential environmental benefits, he said that seaweed farming can earn carbon credits, for example, replacing feed with value-added seaweed products to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

Abiram Seth, managing director of AquAagri Processing, said deep-sea areas should be identified to increase seaweed production. He emphasized the need for suitable planting material for large-scale expansion of seaweed cultivation, and expressed interest in collaborating with CMFRI to produce seaweed seeds at the micro-propagation level.

The meeting also highlighted the importance of bivalve farming, another non-traditional aquaculture practice. According to CMFRI estimates, India’s bivalves production in 2021 is 98,000 tons. Recent CMFRI success includes the commercial production of green-brown mussel seed and the production of gameless larvae from edible clams with a high survival rate in Vizhinjam. More than 6,000 self-help groups are involved in bivalves farming under the guidance of CMFRI.