The squid caught in the deep waters of the Arabian Sea may soon become an exported product from India due to the fact that the country's fishing authorities have decided to grant permission for this cephalopod jigging.
A leading seafood exporter in Kochi told BusinessLine that they have been granted permission for jigging using lights within specific power and urged the government to allow Indian companies to lease adequate squid vessels for the capture of this variety with export potential considering the shortage of vessels.
A joint study of fishery research institutions headed by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) throws light on the rich resource that oceanic squid (S. oualaniensis) is and which remains underexploited in the waters of the Arabian Sea.
Official statistics reveal that out of the total US$ 7.8 billion India seafood exports last fiscal year, squid accounted for 5.44% and that the major markets for Indian squid are the European Union and Japan.
The CMFRI research team estimated a total biomass of 2.52 million tons of oceanic squid in the deep sea, in the range of 280 nautical miles north west of Kochi and 180 nautical miles west of Mangaluru.
The annual fishable biomass of the oceanic squid is 630,000 tons. The three fishing ports along the West Coast – Kochi, Mangaluru and Goa -- can be the launch pads for oceanic squid exploitation.
An abundance of this resource was found near Agatti Island, but the depth of the sea there ranged from 1,800 to 2,600 meters.
The average squid biomass was estimated at 4.21 tons per sq km. Normally, 24 hours of vessel steaming is required from Kochi to reach the squid ground in the deep sea.
The study was part of a World Bank-aided joint research project by a consortium comprising the CMFRI, the Fisheries Survey of India, the National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology, and the Training and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology to develop a new commercial distant-water squid fishing operation from production to consumption. (FIS)