Fish Diseases: Fish is considered as one of the healthiest a source of animal protein and omega 3-fatty acids, and offers immense potential to mitigate malnutrition. Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food producing sectors, and has immense role to play in meeting the rising demand for protein. Further, the sector provides livelihood and employment to about 3 crore fishers and fish farmers in the country.
Foreseeing the immense potential for development in the sector and to bring Blue Revolution, the Government of India has implemented a flagship scheme “Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) with investment of Rs. 20,050 crores, the highest ever investment in Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector in the country.
Diseases are a serious constraint for the growth of aquaculture, and huge economic losses are reported by farmers due to aquatic animal diseases. Early detection is considered to be key to the control of diseases, and can only be achieved through a structured surveillance programme.
Recognizing the importance of disease surveillance, an ambitious National Surveillance Programme for Aquatic Animal Diseases (NSPAAD) was supported by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare through National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Hyderabad in the year 2013.
This programme was initiated in 14 states of aquaculture importance and involved 24 collaborating centres and is being coordinated by ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources. To further strengthen the aquatic animal disease surveillance programme in the country, the 2nd phase of NSPAAD with a total cost of ₹33.778 crores for a period of 3 years is supported under PMMSY with pan-India coverage and active involvement of the State Fisheries department and Marine Products Export Development Authority.
The programme was successfully launched by Shri Purushottam Rupala, Union Minister, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Govt of India on February 27, 2023 at ICAR-CIBA, Chennai.
Some of the important highlights of the NSPAAD over the period of 9 years include
i) developing a strong network of aquatic animal health laboratories in the country,
ii) developing diagnostic capability for detection of World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH)-listed and emerging aquatic animal pathogens,
iii) strengthening of passive disease surveillance in the country ,
iv} providing scientific advice to the farmers for management of disease,
v) detection of nine new pathogens for the first time from the country,
vi) establishing mechanisms for first-time confirmation of exotic and emerging diseases and sending alerts/advisories to stakeholders following suspicion of a new disease to prevent spread of the disease,
vii) successful dispelling of the speculations regarding occurrence of the Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND) (now an WOAH-listed disease) which has huge implications in shrimp trade,
viii) establishing a transparent reporting system and increasing the credibility of the country in terms of reporting of aquatic animal diseases to international organizations, namely World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA).
Under the programme to further strengthen the farmer based reporting a “Report Fish Disease” App has been developed . The App has been launched recently on June 28, 2023 by Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, GoI Shri Parshottam Rupala. Using the innovative app, the farmers can report disease cases in finfish, shrimps and molluscs on their farms to the field level-officers and fish health experts and get scientific advice for quickly addressing the disease problem on their farms. The app will be a central platform for connecting fish farmers, field-level officers and fish health experts.
The vision of Digital India Programme conceptualized by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. Development of this kind of apps to understand the disease problem faced by the farmers is an important step towards fulfilling the vision of “Digital India” of our Prime Minister by providing the entire fish farming communities a platform to share their problem.
It is envisaged that the “Report Fish Disease” will reach all fish farming communities located in the most remote place of country, so that each disease case in aquatic animals are reported, investigated and timely scientific advice are provided, so that the disease problem faced by the farmers which used to go unnoticed or not reported earlier will reach to the experts and the problem will be addressed within a minimum period of time. Hence, the economic loss which was happening due to disease outbreaks will be reduced to a greater extent, thereby help in increasing fish farmers’ income.