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The Return of the Indian Shrimp. Chennai Scientists Are Trying to Revive the Country’s Shrimp Farming

The Return of the Indian Shrimp. Chennai Scientists Are Trying to Revive the Country’s Shrimp Farming

Scientists in Tamil Nadu are exploring ways to revive India’s native shrimp to the country’s shrimp farming, which is currently dominated by US imports, and address the imbalance in farmers markets.

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Scientists in Chennai are keen to revive the shrimp farming industry in India after an outbreak of a deadly virus a decade ago led to extreme losses in the country and an imbalance to the market.

Shrimp farming is a major industry in India and several developed countries like USA, Japan, EU and Australia import frozen shrimp products from India.


Photo Source: Max Pixel


Shrimp farming in India took a blow, however, in 2007 when an earlier outbreak of the white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) caused large-scale mortalities and severe damage to shrimp culture. The outbreak led to massive economic losses to the farmers, processors and the country.

The virus can inflict up to 100% mortality and a report by the Department of Fish Processing Technology, Fisheries College and Research Institute, Tamil Nadu, estimates that 300,000 metric tons of shrimp have been lost to the deadly virus.

The outbreak contaminated native species like the Indian white shrimp (Penaeus Iindicus) and the iconic tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), making way for imported and ‘exotic’ species such as Pacific white shrimps (Penaeus vannamei), a US import, which now holds 90% share in cultivation.

Tiger prawns. Photo Source: Flickr

Now, a decade later, scientists at the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) are exploring ways to fix the problem and put the native species back in the reckoning.

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A simple, sensitive, cost-effective and user-friendly diagnostic kit developed for the detection of lethal shrimp pathogen has been designed at ICAR-CIBA . The kit is expected to help hatchery owners to select disease-free brood stock and produce quality seeds and also help shrimp farmers in selecting the disease free larvae for stocking.

Genetic improvement and selective breeding programmes are also being proposed to match the commercial value of the Pacific white shrimp.

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