Keeping colourful and fancy fishes, known as ornamental fishes, is one of the oldest and popular hobbies dating back to many centuries. The growing interest in aquarium fishes has resulted in steady increase in aquarium fish trade globally. The value of international trade has increased steadily, touching US$ 342 million in 2010. The wholesale value of the global ornamental fish trade is estimated to be US$ 1 Billion. The entire industry, including accessories and fish feed, is estimated to be worth around US $18-20 billion. Even though, more than 2,500 species are traded, 30-35 species of freshwater fish dominate the market. More than 90 percent of freshwater fish are captive bred whereas only few marine ornamentals are bred in captivity. About 120 countries import ornamental fishes and the major importers are European Union, United States and Japan. Singapore is the largest exporter for many years and is regarded as a major trade hub.
India is bestowed with the climatic conditions ideally conducive for growth, maturation and breeding of many exotic as well as indigenous ornamental fishes. The Western Ghats in the southern peninsula and the North-Eastern Region of India are considered to be two of the 34 Biodiversity ‘hotspot’ areas of the world. However, India’s share in global ornamental fish trade is negligible and is dominated by the wild caught species. This sector offers good opportunity for rural and urban households to augment income and link them to the International trade. Almost all of the tank- bred ornamental fish in India come from the small-scale or back yard type of breeding units. However, a sustainable international trade through production of high quality fishes in bulk quantity can be attained only by adequate infrastructure facilities and key inputs like suitable fish seed, feed, quality brood stock etc.
To develop India into a leading exporter of ornamental fish, MPEDA envisages setting up of a sustainable production base with proper infrastructure. The MPEDA‘s developmental initiatives in the sector aims at strengthening our production base to international standards, bridging technology gaps and improving the marketing linkages. In order to minimize the capture based exports, MPEDA had formulated schemes and different certifications /guidelines for a sustainable ornamental fish sector as a result of which sector is slowly transforming towards export of farmed ornamental fish from the country.
MPEDA is implementing various promotional schemes for development of Ornamental Fish Sector. The major scheme implemented is for infrastructure development for the breeding of good quality fish through financial assistance for the setting up of ornamental fish breeding units and thereby offers good opportunity to augment income and link them to the International trade. Employment generation in rural and semi-urban areas is another important objective of this scheme.
As ornamental fish breeding requires skills in breeding and rearing of many species, training is essential for entrepreneurs. Moreover the scientific knowledge of the field also needs to be updated promptly as more and more species are added to the trade owing to the development of novel breeding technologies. Hence providing adequate training is imperative for the successful culmination of the developmental initiatives. In line with these objectives, MPEDA organizes basic (introductory training on basic aspects) and advanced training programmes (covering specific topics in detail) for the scheme beneficiaries. Basic training programmes of 5 day duration are organized mainly for beginners and proposed scheme beneficiaries with a view to introduce them to these aspects.
MPEDA is also involved in organizing awareness programmes, Workshops, Seminars, certification programmes, funding for R&D projects in the sector as well as facilitating foreign collaborative projects.
MPEDA participates in international fairs like Aquarama - Singapore; Aquaria- Dubai etc. for popularizing Indian ornamental fishes and also giving opportunity for the exporters for joint participation. MPEDA also organizes biennial Aqua Aquaria India, the international show on Aquaculture and Ornamental Fish for the promotion of exports from India and Buyer – Seller meets are arranged incorporating foreign importers / buyers and Indian exporters.
Government of India declared MPEDA and EIC as the competent authorities for pre-shipment inspection and health certification of ornamental fishes for export. The Local Competent Authorities empanelled by MPEDA are now issuing Health Certificate for ornamental fish consignments (based on specific request).
MPEDA has initiated a programmeforGreen Certification of Ornamental Fishes and released the guidelines for the same. The guidelines developed for green certification of freshwater ornamental fishes is first of its kind in the world. Green certification is the certification given to a product to ensure its environmental and socio-economic sustainability. It ensures product quality, safety and traceability. Through this certification, MPEDA envisages conservation and sustainable development of ornamental fish sectorin the country which involves collection, farming and marketing of ornamental fishes through a value chain system enabling certification at all stages.