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FEATURE

The Ginger Shrimp
Metapenaeus kutchensis: a promising species for shrimp aquaculture in coastal Gujarat State, India
by S. I. Yusufzai, S. R. Lende and P. J. Mahida, Department of Aquaculture
College of Fisheries Science, Junagadh Agricultural University, Gujarat, India

I

ndia earned US$ 2.67 billion through
the export of marine products in
2010-11. About 60 percent of it came
from shrimp production. The annual
estimated average landing of shrimps from
the fishery in India during 2008-10 was
0.4 million tonnes of which 60 percent
were contributed by penaeid shrimps. An
additional 0.15 million tonnes was produced
from aquaculture.
For decades, brackishwater aquaculture
has been dominated by a single species, the
black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon in India,
contributing to the bulk of the coastal aquaculture production in the country. However,
severe economic losses due to diseases lowering the shrimp production have necessitated
the search for alternative species such as
Litopenaeus vannamei, Fenneropenaeus indicus,
F. merguiensis, Marsupenaeus japonicus etc.
Under these circumstances, the introduction
of specific pathogen free (SPF) Litopenaeus
vannamei was allowed by the Government
of India during 2010-11 to revitalise the
brackishwater shrimp farming in the country.
Nevertheless, due to vannamei, a lot of
changes are taking place in the Indian shrimp

industry; more intensification, more shrimp
produced in different pockets in peak season,
price crashes and a shortage of infrastructure
facilities are currently being experienced.
Among the major maritime states of India,
Gujarat is the western most state of India,
with the longest coastline of 1600 kilometres.
There are vast stretches of marshy and saline
areas all along the coast. The state has 0.38
million hectares of coastal fallow lands, where
about 89,341 hectares of land is found suitable for brackishwater aquaculture. Most of this
land is under government control. Till now
only 5,179 hectares of land is allotted by the
government for brackishwater shrimp farming.
As of March-2011, 522 shrimp farms had
been registered under Coastal Aquaculture
Authority, including 10 farms with water
spread area of 175 hectares for L. vannamei
farming. In 2010-11, farmed shrimp production of the state was 4,531 tons, mainly comprising P. monodon. Most of the brackishwater
aquaculture farms are developed in the South
Gujarat region, mainly in Valsad, Navsari, Surat
and Bharuch districts.
On the other side, although 28 percent (19,757 hectares) of total suitable land
for brackishwater aquaculture is available in

the coastal Saurashtra and Kutch region of
Gujarat, not much development has yet taken
place in this area in terms of brackishwater
shrimp farming. This is mainly due to absence
of perennial rivers and comparatively low rainfall in the region, causing high salinities mainly
during summer months.
The coastline of Saurashtra and Kutch has
broad continental shelf and hence supports
healthy biodiversity compared to the other
regions of the state. Many important shrimp
species such as Fenneropenaeus merguiensis,
Metapenaeus affinis, P. monodon, M. brevicornis,
M. kutchensis, M. monoceros, P. japonicus, P.
semisulcatus are found in these coastal waters.
Metapenaeus kuchensis, the ginger shrimp,
is a commercially important penaeid shrimp
endemic to the Gulf of Kutch region of
Gujarat and is popular for its contribution
to the Surajbari fishery from the Kutch area
during the monsoon season (July-August). The
juveniles of the species are called ‘Surajbari’
shrimps, as they are procured in good quantities from Surajbari in the Kutch. They are
locally known as soniya, kutchi jinga or medium jinga. Apart from Kutch, the juveniles are
also found in various creeks of Saurashtra
in places such as Okha, Porbandar, Veraval,

12 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | November-December 2015

FEATURE

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda 
Subphylum
Crustacea
Class
Malacostraca 
Subclass
Eumalacostraca 
Superorder
Eucarida 
Order
Decapoda 
Suborder
Dendrobranchiata 
Superfamily
Penaeoidea 
Family
Penaeidae 
Genus
Metapenaeus 
Species
kutchensis 

Common Names
Ginger Shrimp (English)
Kutch Prawn (English)
Kutchi Jinga (Gujarati)
Medium Jinga (Gujarati)
Soniya (Gujarati)

Mahuva, Jafrabad etc. The adult shrimps, especially the females, are pinkish and exported
as ‘red’ or ‘pink’ medium, which command a
price comparable to Penaeus spp. in local and
overseas markets.
During and immediately after the monsoon, a considerable fall in salinity occurs in
general and near-fresh water conditions in

certain creeks of coastal Saurashtra. These
creeks are immensely loaded with post larvae
of the ginger shrimp during monsoon when
they enter upstream at the opening of the
barmouth, and get trapped due to poor
drainage of the creeks during the lean season.
They are then easily caught by the fishermen through fixed stake nets, bag nets or
drag-nets. This species can tolerate extreme
fluctuations in salinity levels (0 to 55 ppt on
chronic exposure) and can survive in very high
densities in comparatively turbid and low oxygen conditions. The temperature levels and
the nutrient load in the isolated creek habitats
indicate the high potential and amenability of
this species for aquaculture.
The maximum size (total length) reported for male is 148 millimetres (mm) and
female is 164 mm. The size groups found in
the fishery from the sea coast is predominantly 80-200 mm TL and the size groups
found in Surajbari and other creeks is
45-110 mm TL. Adult shrimp of 150 mm TL
and 200 mm TL weigh about 23 g and 60 g,
respectively. Its feeding habit is omnivorous,
preferring polychaetes, Acetes spp., benthic
crustaceans, and algae and detritus. The
breeding season is November – December
and February – March and the fecundity and
biology is similar to that of other penaeid
shrimps. A female attaining 180-195 mm

length (about a year old) produces about
0.38-0.57 million eggs from May to August.
For M. kutchensis of 37.27 mm length, the
mean growth rate of 0.33 mm and 0.037
gm/day has been reported. The chemical
and biological parameters of water quality at
Kutch have been found to be optimum for
shrimp culture and hence the post-larvae
of ginger shrimp grow to juveniles within a
couple of month’s time.
Since this species thrives well in natural
water bodies under extreme environmental
conditions and is as valuable as other penaeid
shrimps, its prospects for aquaculture are very
high. The preliminary studies with regard to
its stocking density and feed protein requirements under captive conditions at College
of Fisheries Science, JAU, Veraval indicates
that M. kutchensis has a potential to become
a candidate species for shrimp aquaculture
in the coastal Saurashtra and Kutch region.
Further research in this regard is necessary
to ascertain its suitability in monoculture or
mixed culture with other shrimp species such
as F. merguiensis, P. monodon and F. indicus, and
fishes such as tilapia and gray mullets. Efforts
are also needed to confirm the possibility of
M. kutchensis farming during winter months,
where most of the farmers usually abandon
the shrimp farming due to low temperatures
in the region.

November-December 2015 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | 13