Gujarat has the largest coastline in India but still seafood is a rarity in the coastal areas because of the vegetarianism that people of Gujarat practice.
But the state is one of the largest exporter of marine food with almost all the coastal towns boasting of processing units catering export orders for rare species of sea food.
And now the state government is exploring the possibility of setting up a Special Economic Zone for marine food. Here is why:
According to the fisheries department total marine food production in Gujarat is around 6.6 lakh (660,000) metric tonne, which also includes 0.70 lakh (70,000) metric tonne of inland production. 1.34 lakh (134,000) metric tonne out of this is earmarked for exports. Last year total marine sector exports from the state stood at Rs 950 crore (Rs 9.50 billion).
"We have looked at some of the locations, which include Veraval, Porbandar and Mangrol, for setting up this SEZ," said Kishore Rao, secretary, agriculture, co-operative and fisheries, Gujarat government.
The whole idea is to make a hub of activities for marine exports. The proposed SEZ will have various facilities including processing centers and cold storage and other critical infrastructure facilities required for marine food exports.
The Gujarat government has also informally asked IL&FS to study the possibility of setting up such SEZs and global tenders would also be floated global tenders to seek private partnership.
However, sources in fisheries department of Gujarat said that the Gujarat government has identified 250 hectares of land near Veraval to develop fish processing plant, cold storage and ice factory.