Tuna handling facilities in Kochi soon

Written by Commodities Bureau | Kochi, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2007, 05:51am hrs
In an attempt to increase the export of tuna from the nation, the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (Mpeda) has decided to set up two dedicated tuna handling facilities in Kochi. The state-run organisation has submitted the proposal to the Union government for clearance.

While landing of some species are on the decline in India, others like the tuna, deep-sea sharks, and billfish are not exploited to the full extent. India could manage to increase its fish landings with conversion of the excess bottom trawlers into tuna long liners. The handling facilities will come up at the Integrated Fisheries Centre and Matsyafed.

Tuna exports have increased after Mpeda launched training for tuna fishing and boat upgradation. The tuna exports registered an impressive growth of 37.4% in volume in the last financial year, Kuruvila Thomas of Mpeda said. For 2006-07, India exported 22,851 tonne as against 16,267 tonne in 2005-06.

Mpeda feels that the value and quality of the exports can be increased with the new facilities. Since mishandling of the catch affects the quality of the products Mpeda is undertaking measures to ensure adequate on-board and off-board handling.

The organisation is offering a subsidy of 50% for converting the bottom trawlers into tuna long-liners. The conversion is estimated to cost Rs 15 lakh, but the returns from tuna fishing is tremendous, Thomas said. Mpeda hopes to convert 100 boats into tuna long-liners in the current financial year.

Tuna is considered the third major fish commodity traded internationally after shrimp and ground fish. The price of tuna is going up in the international market and Mpeda hopes to increase tuna exports to $500 million by the end of Eleventh Plan.