The sale of ornamental fish has taken a nosedive in Kerala following a union government order regulating its farming and marketing. Thousands in the trade are losing their income and job.
This apart, four centers set up by the state government with investments running into crores will go waste.
A Central government center will also have to close doors. The Agency for Development of Aquaculture (ADAC) has ornamental fish culture and marketing centers in Odayam, Varkala, Neyyar dam, Malampuzha, and Wayanad.
The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute manages an aquarium in Vizhinjam. At Vizhinjam and Odayam, ornamental fish from the sea are grown. If the law is enforced strictly, all five centers will be shuttered.
All government centers distribute fish fingerlings to farmers. The Central notification insists that ornamental fish be grown in natural surroundings only.
Fish cannot be kept in glass tanks or jars. Fish are kept in glass tanks or jars in aquariums run by government and private agencies. All this will have to stop and fish exhibition will end.
The Kerala Aquaculture Venture International Limited (Kavil), entrusted with ornamental fish farming and marketing, will have to stop work. It was granted Rs.2 crore this year for domestic marketing and export of such fish.
Over 300 ornamental fish farming centers in the state functioning with financial assistance from the Central Marine Products Development Authority will also have to close down.
Unofficial statistics say over 50,000 people work in ornamental fish farming and marketing in Kerala. ADAC has been training smallscale farmers for years. It includes tsunamiaffected families. Half a lakh people who finished training are known to have opened aquariums.
The Central notification says every aquarium and marketing agency should have a fulltime veterinary doctor or fish expert. An assistant is also needed to oversee the health of fish and ensure sanitation.
However, an aquarium cannot be run profitably with such facilities. Most of the state’s aquariums also keep pet animals and birds, but the Center has banned these.
has banned sale of only one ornamental fresh water fish sold in Kerala now: Miss Kerala. The rest are marine varieties.
Fish that are sold high in the state can still be sold. But it’s hard to ensure arrangements mandated at marketing centers.