New Delhi: Scientists at agri research body ICAR have detected an abundance of deep sea squid in the central Arabian Sea, opening up new opportunities for large scale export of the high value seafood delicacy.
Using funds from the World Bank aided National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), K Sunil Mohamed of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and his team have been able to map abundance of this largely unexploited deep sea squid which inhabits at depths ranging between 1,000 and 4,000 meters.
CMFRI is an institute of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
According to Mohamed, the concentration of this species is on an average five tonnes per sq km and in some areas, post-monsoon season, as much as 90 tonnes.
Because of its abundance and dominance in a major part of the Arabian Sea, these squids are called the "Master of the Arabian Sea", Mohamed said.
Through repeated trials in the Arabian sea for over a year, Mohamed and his team have standardised specialized techniques for its capture called squid jigging.
Using micro-processor controlled automatic squid jigging machines and powerful metal halide lamps, these squids are first attracted to the surface during night and then the colourful and barbless jigs are lowered and raised serially in a jigging motion to capture squids.
Other fishing methods such as gill-netting and purse seining have also been successful for capture of these squids.
Consortium partners of CMFRI in the project, the National Institute of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology and Training (NIFPHATT), Kochi have developed ready-to-eat and
ready-to-cook products from these squids which have passed through domestic trials successfully.
Considering the high demand and prices for oceanic squids in the international market, there is great scope for exploiting this resource on a massive scale, Mohamed said.
In recent times, Indian seafood exports have been witnessing steady growth in value terms, though in volume terms the growth has been tardy.