INDIA - After record production of farmed vannamei shrimps, which helped boost India's seafood exports, the industry is expecting a shortfall next year because of the risks from a new shrimp disease that has been found on some farms in recent weeks.
Running Mortality Syndrome (RMS) has recently been detected on shrimp farms in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which are the major producers of vannamei shrimp, one of the top earners in the seafood export basket, reports the EconomicTimes.
"Though we may be able to harvest the crop, the survival rate will be affected. We will be able to assess the damage only in the harvest for 2015-16," said Muthukaruppan, president of the Society of Aquaculture Professionals.
"This year's harvest has already been over and the production of shrimps could be near 3.5 lakh tonne, an all-time-high," he said.
The disease is apparently not as destructive as early mortality syndrome (EMS), which devastated shrimp farms in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia last year, triggering a global shortage of shrimps. That, however, had benefited Indian exporters.
The disease was observed in local farms only in the past few months, said Muthukaruppan.
"We export a lot of farmed shrimps. We have heard about RMS but the details of the disease are not known yet," said Premachandra Bhat, MD of Mangala Marine Exim.
The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) has yet to assess the impact of the disease, since it is a comparatively new occurrence. It is the seeding time in the farms now and the cleaning of the ponds and filling will take some time.
"Since it is the stocking time, we will know about the results only one or two months later. It (occurrence of the disease) could be possibly because of use of cheaper locally- produced broodstock instead of the imported ones. The farms mainly depend on imported vannamei broodstock, which is pathogen free," said Anwar Hashim, managing director of Abad Exports.
Meanwhile, because of the fall in shrimp prices, exporters say the country's total seafood export may fall short of the targeted $6 billion despite an increase in volume.
"It could be near last year's figure. The prices of shrimps of 40 count have dropped from a level of 530 a kg to 370. Indonesia is our chief competitor," Bhat said.
Muthukaruppan said more farmers are evincing interest in black tiger shrimp, which fetches premium price in the world market, because of the disease threat and the low price of vannamei.
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