Shrimp Farmers in South Gujarat Stare at Rs 1k Cr Losses as WSSV strikes
With an estimated 6000 shrimp ponds, primarily in Navsari district, succumbing to the WSSV disease in the last fortnight, the region's aquaculture industry is staring at staggering losses amounting to Rs 1000 crore.
Surat : Shrimp farmers in the southern districts of Gujarat, including Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, and Valsad, are reeling from a devastating blow as the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) wreaks havoc in their shrimp ponds.
With an estimated 6000 shrimp ponds, primarily in Navsari district, succumbing to the WSSV disease in the last fortnight, the region’s aquaculture industry is staring at staggering losses amounting to Rs 1000 crore.
South Gujarat has long been renowned as the epicenter of aquaculture activity, with shrimp farming taking the lead. Shrimps harvested from this region find their way to international markets through Mumbai, generating significant revenue for the local economy. Tens of thousands of coastal residents in the four districts have depended on shrimp farming as their primary source of livelihood for years.
White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) has gained notoriety as one of the most pervasive and lethal threats to shrimp populations worldwide. Unfortunately, there is currently no known treatment to counter its uncontrolled spread. Recent advancements in molecular biology have shed light on the virus’s mechanisms and strategies for infecting susceptible host cells, but comprehensive understanding of WSSV’s life cycle and mode of infection remains elusive.
Shrimp farmers in Surat have noted a recurring pattern with the WSSV outbreak in South Gujarat, which seems to strike the shrimp population approximately every seven years. When the virus infects the shrimps, they develop characteristic white spots across their bodies, rendering them unsuitable for sale in the international market.
Even farmers who took meticulous precautions to prevent WSSV are grappling with diminished shrimp counts and smaller sizes that fall below the international buyers’ standards. South Gujarat is home to over 12,000 shrimp ponds, both legal and illegal, and the annual turnover of the shrimp industry hovers around Rs 2000 crore, with production ranging from 40,000 to 45,000 metric tonnes.
“Following the outbreak of WSSV in the shrimp population, buyers have been wary of sourcing from South Gujarat. It’s like one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch. This is a dire situation for progressive farmers who took intensive measures to protect their crops. Prices have plummeted to rock-bottom levels, and we are facing colossal losses,” lamented a distressed shrimp farmer from Olpad.
“The WSSV outbreak in South Gujarat is not only a grave economic concern but also a threat to the livelihoods of countless residents in this coastal region. As the shrimp farming community grapples with these challenges, there is a pressing need for research and solutions to mitigate the impact of WSSV and protect the future of this vital industry” said an aquaculture expert.