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    Cobia Farming in India


    Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
    Tuesday, May 05, 2009
    ePaper | Mobile/PDA Version | Audio | Blogs


    Agri-Biz & Commodities - Aquaculture
    Pilot project of cobia culture set to take off Onshore, offshore sites in Tuticorin; to boost seafood exports.


    Fillip to marine exports

    Plans to market cobia in the form of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food.

    Tolerant to high temperature and brackish water – enabling culture in diverse climatic and geographic domains.



    C.J. Punnathara

    Kochi May 4

    India’s first cobia cage culture pilot project is to come up at onshore and offshore sites at Tharuvikulam in Tuticorin. It is expected to give the much-needed fillip to the country’s seafood exports.

    Breeding cobia for commercial production can be very profitable because of the exceptionally high growth rate exhibited by the fingerlings, huge export potential, white meat, taste and superior flavour, a report by the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) said.

    Breeding technologies

    Cobia culture is already in vogue in some South-East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand.

    The project, to be set up under the joint guidance of the Fisheries College and Research Institute of the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Tanuvas) at Tuticorin, the Central Institute of Brackish water Aquaculture at Chennai and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Mandapam, would aim at developing technologies for breeding and farming of cobia and for preparation of fish products in different form for marketing.

    Different package

    India is already a late entrant into the booming international trade in frozen and value-added export of cobia. Since other countries already have a lead over us, we will package the fish differently for the market. “We are planning to market it as a value-added product in the form of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food,”sources associated with the project said. The high growth potential and low feed costs are other advantages which would be working in favour of the Indian cobia culture.

    Features

    Cobia can grow up to two metres in length and weigh as much as 68 kg a fish. They have an accelerated growth cycle - growing up to one kg in six months, further to 5-6 kg in a year and 8-10 kg when bred in cages for two years. And as far as feed is concerned, cobia culture is found to be far cheaper. One kg of feed for sea bass, the other fish reared in cages in India is as high as Rs 50.

    Reflecting the rapid growth cycle and large potential size, cobia has a diverse feeding habit and is also carnivorous, eating smaller fishes. Additionally it is tolerant to high temperature and brackish water – enabling culture in diverse climatic and geographic domains.

    The initial project would have offshore sites 20-30 metres from the shore into the seabed. The fish is to be bred in marine cages which are to be imported from Norway. For the onshore phase of the project, unutilised shrimp farms are to be converted into cobia farms.

    The purpose of the onshore and offshore aspects of the project is to draw comparisons between the two sites and assess the advantages of each culture and how best to increase the productivity of each other.

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