Kochi, Feb 1: The country's first 'oceanarium', showcasing its marine biodiversity, will be set up near here, Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said today. Inaugurating the '4th India International Aquashow 2008' here, Mr Achuthanandan said the 'oceanarium', spread over a 60-acre area at Puthuvypeen, would be set up with Centre's collaboration.
A marine biology research station would form part of the 'oceanarium', he added. Speaking of the tremendous employment generation potential of the ornamental fisheries sector, the Chief Minister said the Kerala Government was setting up an Aqua Technology Park with satellite parks at Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram, Kottayam, Kannur and Pathanamthitta Districts in the state.
These parks would give technical and other assistance to set up ''backyard hatcheries'' in rural households. Women would be especially trained for this.
Maldives Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources Minister Hussain Hilmy, who was the 'Guest of Honour' at the inauguration, said his country had introduced strict management controls to check the exploitation of coral reefs and the fish which live off them.
Stating that export of ornamental fish was not a big part of the Maldivian fisheries sector, he said the island nation exported two lakh ornamental fishes last year, mainly to the UK and the European Union.
Kerala Fisheries Minister S Sarma said India's share in the world trade for ornamental fish was less than one per cent. The maritime states of the country had a tremendous potential to tap this sector for boosting exports and generating employment.
As part of Kerala's aquaculture initiatives, the State Government had decided to float the Kerala Aqua Ventures International Ltd to tap the trade and investment opportunities in the sector. The report of an international consultancy firm, appointed on the basis of a global tender, had already been received and was due to be discussed by the Cabinet, he said.
Earlier, welcoming the gathering Kerala Principal Secretary, Fisheries P Prabhakaran said an international seminar and a buyer-seller meet would be among the highlights of the five-day 'Aqua Show'.
Speaking of the increasing popularity of the event, he said nearly 60 participants had put up stalls in the exhibition, showcasing different varieties of ornamental fish, accessories and equipment, fish feed and medicines.
Others present at the function were Dr Sebastian Paul, MP, former Kerala Minister K V Thomas, MLA, and Chairman Matsyafed, V V Saseendran.
Former President A P J Abdul Kalam will deliver the valedictory address at a two-day international seminar, 'Ornamentals Kerala 2008' on February 3.
The event is being attended by 250 delegates, including traders, farmers, scientists, academicians, policy makers and suppliers of goods and services.
Several foreign experts, including from Thailand, Singapore, USA, Europe, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, will make presentations on breeding and rearing technology of high value ornamental fish, technological innovations in aquarium keeping, global market trends and marketing.
The aquashow, being jointly organised by the Kerala and the Union Governments, will conclude on February 5 with state Home and Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishanan delivering the valedictory address.