HYDERABAD: Fish Welfare Initiative (FWI), an organization supporting the production of higher welfare fish for the first time in India, hosted the Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture: Roundtable Dialogue on Fish Welfare in Shankarpalle on Friday. The closed event’s attendees included Fisheries Scientist Dr. Veeranjaneyulu, select aquafarmers, Gantasala Venkata Anjaneyulu; N. Venkataiah; and Vundavalli Chandhu from the Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture, Chefs Megha Kohli (Chef, Cafe Mez & The Wine Company) and Seemanta Baruah (Director – Culinary Operations, The Bier Library), representatives from farmer producer organizations, Bhupesh Reddy (Founder and CEO, Gunapati’s); Srinivas Chekuri (Chairman, Gramodaya Trust); and Tarun Katoch (Co-founder; Head – Value Chain, Dvara E-Registry), and representatives from meat retail and export giants, Sunil Tandon (Vice President, Fipola Retail Pvt. Ltd.); Venkata Kalagarla (Procurement Head, Captain Fresh); and Swadesh Sarangi (Head of Retail, Falcon Marine group).
The roundtable stands as a precursor to corporate procurement transitions to higher welfare fish products—set to enter the Indian market for the first time this year. These products will be sourced from producer members of the Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture (ARA)—an FWI-led coalition of farmers, corporations, and NGOs supporting Aquaculture Best Practices. SAGE, a corporate member of the ARA, The Chefs’ Manifesto, Gramodaya Trust, and Bhavi Aqua and Fish FPO, stood as event partners supporting the roundtable.
Fish welfare favors farming practices that maintain high water quality, optimize feed management, stock fish in reasonable numbers to prevent overcrowding, and prep farming ponds to minimize disease and parasitic infestations. This is how ARAs higher welfare fish are farmed. Fish Welfare Initiative India Foundation (FWI India) is currently working with 72 fish farms in Andhra Pradesh and is developing the second version of its welfare standard for farming Catla, Rohu, and Mrigal.
The roundtable included sessions detailing Fish Welfare Initiative’s welfare standard-setting process in the ARA, on the link between welfare and nutrition, and panel discussions on the route to sustainability via animal welfare. FWI India’s Managing Director, Karthik Pulugurtha said, “This year will be the first time that fish farmed with Aquaculture Best Practices will hit the Indian Market. We are excited to be working with a coalition of farmers, corporations, and organizations who place emphasis on the importance of fish welfare for business resilience and future profitability in the aquaculture sector. This roundtable is the first step to building a market of fish products that are a result of fairer, more natural, and kinder farming practices.”
Speaking on product quality, CCMAR – Center of Marine Sciences Scientist and FWI Fish Welfare Specialist – Consultant, Dr. Marco Cerqueira, said “Fish that are not stressed grow faster and healthier than stressed fish raised in crowded, unhygienic conditions. Traditional practices also use more chemicals and drugs to prevent disease, resulting in a product that can contribute to antibiotic resistance in consumers.”
The event was held at SAGE’s Baby Elephant Farm at Shankarpalle and included a guided tour of SAGE’s ARA pangasius farm for all attendees. FWI expects trial procurement to begin later this year and for procurement transitions from corporations to follow soon after.