Soon, people from across Maharashtra will not have to travel to Mumbai to watch the underwater world of fish and aquatic life at the Taraporewala aquarium. The state government is planning to develop a chain of aquariums across the state.
“We plan to develop a chain of aquariums across cities like Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad,” Atul Patne, commissioner, fisheries, Government of Maharashtra, told the Free Press Journal. This may be developed on a public private partnership (PPP) basis with revenue sharing with the government built into the model, he added.
“At the same time, the ornamental fish industry can be linked to these aquariums… along with hatcheries and sale of these fish,” said Patne.
At present, Maharashtra has only one aquarium—the Taraporewala aquarium, which is named after Parsi philanthropist DB Taraporewala and located on the Marine Drive in Mumbai. Inaugurated in 1951, the aquarium includes 16 tanks each for marine and freshwater fish and another 25 tanks for tropical fish.
It sees a daily footfall between 2,000 and 3,000, depending on the season, and the annual revenue is pegged at around Rs 4.25 crore.
Patne stressed that it was essential for the state to tap into the booming ornamental fish industry.
Though Mumbai is a major market for the sale of ornamental and exotic hobby fish, most of these fish in the state are sourced from cities like Kolkata and Chennai. Though some varieties like Angels, Discus, Tangerines, Dollars are bred in Mumbai, the ornamental and exotic fish production in Maharashtra is negligible.
According to 2018 National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) data, the ornamental fish industry at the retail level is worth US $ 10 billion, with an average annual growth of over 10 per cent. The entire industry, which includes plants, accessories, aquarium, feed and drugs, is estimated to be worth over US $18 billion to $20 billion. It is spread across 125 countries. However, India’s share of the global market is meagre.