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Aquaculture in India

A pioneering leader in aquaculture

While India celebrated its 68th anniversary as an independent republic this year (2018), its tradition of aquaculture is well over 2000 years old. In fact, the earliest reference to fish farming dates back to the 4th century BC![1] Small-scale aquaculture of carp laid the foundation for what has developed into a flourishing fish farming sector. Since the founding of the Republic of India in 1950, the sector has grown continuously, and with aquaculture production at an estimated 5.7 million metric tons in 2016 (FAO), India is the 2nd largest producer of aquatic animals globally. The majority of the aquaculture growth in India has taken place in the 21st century, driven by an almost 150 % growth in the production of carps to 4.2 million metric tons (FAO). Additionally, India has developed a vibrant shrimp farming sector which is ranked 4th globally after China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.


An important trading partner

In 2017, India exported over US $5.4 billion of seafood products and US $3,854,194 or 71 % of total seafood trade revenue was shrimp. The largest trading partner for shrimp is the USA, followed by Vietnam and Japan. However, as a region, the EU is India’s 3rd largest shrimp trading partner. In the EU, the UK is the largest importer of Indian shrimp, followed by Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. In 2017 and again in 2018, India has undergone audits by the EU to investigate the use of antibiotics at the farm level. While final results of the 2nd audit are expected this summer (2018), currently 100 % of shrimp imported into the EU from India are inspected in order to provide the highest level of assurance that shrimp from India is safe and wholesome.


Sustainable growth

The overwhelming majority of fish farmers in India are small-scale. To help small-scale shrimp farmers overcome challenges such as disease and reduce negative impacts, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of India established the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA) in 2007. NaCSA began by creating ‘shrimp societies’ (clusters of between 20 and 74 shrimp farmers). Farms in ‘shrimp societies’ benefit from assistance in the implementation of better management practices a.k.a. ‘good aquaculture practices’. To date, over 19,000 small-scale farmers have been involved in and benefited from the initiative.[2]


A bright future for shrimp and Tilapia

Further investment in the Indian aquaculture sector is underway, and future aspirations include doubling the shrimp production as well as building a strong farmed tilapia sector. As the Indian aquaculture sector continues to grow, sustainability will be a top priority. To learn more about aquaculture sustainability in India visit the NaCSA website at: