prawns and shrimps of India belong to three major families, namely Pedaeidae, Palaemonidae
and Sergestidae of the decapod groups. A few deep-water forms belonging to the family
Pandalidae are also gaining commercial importance with the result of recent exploratory
fishing activities. There has been much confusion in the usage of the terms prawns and
shrimps. At the Prawn Symposium of the I.P.F.C held at Tokyo in 1995, it was decided that
the term prawn should be applied in Penaeids, Pandalids and Palaemonids, while the use of
the term shrimp should be restricted to the smaller forms of economic importance here are
to be termed as prawns.
prawn production in India form about 15% of the total world production of prawn and
shrimps. If the substantial production from back waters, paddy fields lakes and estuaries
etc. are taken into account, the percentage of Indian production to the would production
of marine prawns will be about 20%.
production of marine crustaceans in India with its composition forms three broad groups.
The penaeid prawns form about 56% of the average annual crustacean production in India.
The next group in importance is the non-penaeid prawns forming about 40% of the average
annual production of crustacea. The balance of 4% consists of other crustaceans.
are landed in all the maritime States of India, but the amount of landings very from State
to State. The landings of East Coast of India form only about 17% of the total crustacean
landings, while the balance of about 83% is landed on the West Coast of India. Among the
States, Maharashtra ranks first by contributing about 48% of the total crustacean landings
in India followed by Kerala which contributes on an average 28% of the average annual
production of crustaceans. In fact, the major crustacean fishery of India are today
located in the two States, Maharashtra and Kerala.
of Penaeid prawns
penaeid prawns include three genus Penaeus Metapenaeus and Parapenaeopsis.
genus Penaeus has a worldwide distribution and the various species belonging to it are
found both in tropical and temperate latitudes. Practically all of them are marine
although some are know to spend a part of their life in the brackish water and even in
freshwater. Of the 28 valid species of the genus, only 8 are represented in Indian waters:
they being Penaeus japonicus, P. latisulcatus, P. canaliculature, P. monodon,
P.semisulcatus, P. inducus, P. merguiensis and P. penicillatus.
the species belonging to this genus grow to a large size and they support commercial
fisheries in many productions of prawns and shrimps. All the eight species recorded from
India are listed as prawns of economic value, although, some of them do not occur in
commercial quantities in India.
indicus in India supports commercial fisheries in both marine and estuarine environments
on the east and west coasts.
India P.semisulcatus is caught along with other prawns only occasionally. It is not known
to contribute any significant proportion of the marine catch. However, the species is
often well reported in the brackish water fishery of the west coast of India.
monodon, the largest of marine prawns is known as "Jumbo tiger prawn" in most of
the countries of Indo-Pacific region. The species is widely distributed in east and west
coast of India and Sri Lanka. The species apparently prefers warm water habitats. It is
recorded from seas, rivers, estuaries, brackish waters and even from freshwaters.
belonging to the genus Metapenaeus are distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific regions. Of
this genus, Metapenaeus, comprising of 24 species, only 10 species have been recorded to
occur in Indian waters. They are M.dobsoni. M. monoceros, M.affinis, M. brevicornis, M.
ensis, M. lysianassa, M. burdenroadi, M. stebbengi, M. kutchensis and M. alcocki.
dobsoni is distributed from Indian waters through Malaysia and Indonesia to Philippine
islands. It is found in brackish water as well as marine environments. In Indian waters
the species is present in the juvenile stages in most of the estuaries and brackish waters
along the coast line and the adults in inshore areas upto 20 fathoms depth along the south
west coast of India, where it contribute to a major fishery.
monoceros is distributed in South Africa, Mediterranean and Indian seas to Malaysia with
the eastern limit a Malacca strait. Although it is a marine species, it is found in
marine, brackishwater and freshwater environments.
Indian waters, it occurs in the Juvenile stages in most of the estuaries and back waters
with muddy bottom along the coast line and adults in the sea upto 50-60 meters depth both
muddy as well as sand and silt bottom.
general distribution of Metapenaeus affinis in Indian seas through Malaysia and part of
Indonesia to Hong Kong and Japan in marine and brackish water.
Indian waters, the juveniles of the species are found in very small numbers in the
backwaters and estuaries and adults occur in the inshore waters to a depth of about 45
general distribution of Metapenaeus brevicornis is Pakistan through Indian, Malayesians,
Thailand and Indonesian waters to about East Borneo.
distribution of this species in Indian waters one difference noticed from other species
like M. monoceros and M.affinis is that, it does not occur in the southern area, but
contribute a good fishery in the northern region both on the west as well as east coasts.
Well represented in estuaries and inshore waters especially in the east coast. In the Gulf
of Kutch area the species is mostly distributed in areas with sandy bottom.
genus Parapenaeopsis comprising of 16 species enjoys a wide distribution. Majority of the
species are restricted to tropical and warm temperate shallow seas, but few of them are
also recorded from brackish water regions. Most of the species are recorded from Indian
region so far. They are Parapenaeopsis uncta, P. cornntra maxillipedo, P. nana, P.
acclivirostris, P. sculptilis, P. hardwickii and P. stylifera. Among them, P. stylifera,
P. sculptilis and P. hardwikii are commercially exploited in India.
are most abundant from Veraval to Trivandrum coast, but moderately available in the Sind
Mekran and Kutch areas. In the southern most part of west coast and in east coast they are
found in lesser numbers. It occurs all the year round in the west coast in India, but
abounds the shallow inshore waters from January to June and deeper waters in September to
October. Their occurrence in the marine regions and the relative abundance during warmer
months seems to be due to their inability to tolerate lesser salinity.
sculptilis is widely distributed tropical specials found from west and east coast of India
to Hong Kong through Malayesian waters and Indonesia to tropical Australia and New Guinea.
India, commercial exploitation of the species is done at Kutch, Bombay in west coast and
Hoogly estuarine system in the east coast. It is also reported from the Godavari river
system through out the year.
hardwickii ranks third among the commercially exploited species of the genus
Parapenaeopsis in the Indian region. The general distribution of the species is from the
coasts of India through Malayesia to southern China. Although, the species occur on both
the coasts of India, it support a good fishery only in Bombay and in lesser magnitude in
species is subjected to commercial exploitation at different stages of life from both
estuarine and marine environments. The brood prawns, which come into backwater in November
December reaches a size of 110 mm. In September-October of the following year, when
they move out into the sea. The entire backwater fishery, therefore, are constituted by
0 year class prawns. Three-year classes (0,1 & 2) of this species are
represented in the trawl fishery.
backwater of Kerala, the species is fished almost through out the year. The marine fishery
is largely seasonal. On the west coast, the season generally coincides with the monsoon
period, June-September, but the fishing season of the species in December-February have
been observed both in east and west coast of India.
estuarine and backwater fishery for the juveniles of the species is carried out in very
shallow waters not exceeding 10 metres in depth. But the commercial fishery for adults are
generally carried out in coastal waters upto a depth of 50 metres along Indian coast.
juveniles of the species have been observed to spend their life from late August to middle
of October in areas of the sea, where Zostera marina are growing. After middle of October,
the species seems to be fished only from the off shore areas, where the bottom is muddy.
In the marine catches, the size composition varies from 150-180 mm., the largest recorded
size being 222 mm.
species also form a significant portion of prawn catches of Bheris of West
Bengal, where they attain a length of 76-127 mm. at the end of the season.
indicus, this species is also subjected to commercial exploitation at different stages of
life from both estuarine and marine environments. The entire backwater fishery constituted
by 0 year class. The species occurring in the trawl catches from both the
coasts of India come under late 0-year to early 1-year class.
over 300 mm. in total length are common in the trawer catches landed from relatively
deeper waters of the west coast.
Kerala backwater fishery, the species is caught through out the season in small numbers.
In Bombay, they are found in commercial from August-October.
contribution of the species in the overall prawn fishery of the country is roughly
estimated as 0.9%.
fishery in backwater environments is constituted by the 0 year and 1 year
classes by marine fishery.
the monsoon months, when the mud banks occur, in various places along the coast, shoals of
these prawns approach the shore in these areas, so close as to make it possible for
fishermen to use for catching them.
population of the backwater and estuaries sizes ranging from 30-70 mm in the catches, the
marine fishery size range from about 60-125 mm.
are fished in backwaters, estuaries and paddy fields in shallow areas ranging from 1-15
meter depth. Young adults and adults are caught from sea in depths up to 25-30 metres.
marine inshore areas, the fishery is largely seasonal fron June to September. The off
shore fishery extends from November to June. In brackish waters of Kerala, the fishery
extends from middle of November to April.
0 year class contributes to the backwater fishery of Cochin. In the trawl
catches, 3-year classes have been recorded. The bigger year class enters the fishery in
November-December and the smaller size appears later. It is noticed that in some years,
the bigger classes fail to appear in the fishery.
backwater fishery constitutes 56-90 mm. the inshore fishery constitutes of the species of
40-120 mm., mostly juveniles. The adults are caught in the trawl fishery the size range
being 90-175 mm. The maximum size attained is 180mm. in the deeper waters (50-60 metres).
species are abundant in backwaters from March-June and in November. The season in the
trawl fishery is November-December. In Bombay waters, the fishery commences during the
rainy season, July-August. In Chilka Lake it is abundant in November-June.
backwater fishery only 0year class (30-120 mm.) is represented. The inshore
and off shore fishery is mostly represented by I and II year class (71-130 mm.) In the
trawl fishery, the II year class generally enters the fishery in earlier half of the
season and the I year in the later half (121-140mm.)
backwater fishery, the species is abundant from January-June. The peak season for the
species in the trawl fishery is from December-February in Cochin, January-March in Bombay
and January-August in Calicut. The inshore fishery of the Kerala coast intensifies after
the formation of mud banks (annual) on which the prawn concentrates.
Hooghly estuary I and II year groups of the species form the fishery. 0 and
III year groups also contribute to the fishery. In the Hooghly estuary, the catches ranged
in size between 15 and 115 mm. the inshore fishery for the species range from 40-110 mm.
in length. They occur in shallow waters ranging 4-7 meters depth.
species is found through out the year, the peak season is form January-March in Bombay
coast, July-February in Gulf Kutch area. In Hoogly estuaries it is fished through out the
year with bulk landings in November-February.
inshore waters, the species is abundant upto 22 metres especially from the depth ranges of
12-20 meters. The population is composed of 0,1 and II year classes, having a size range
Veraval, the species support a good fishery during October-December period. In Bombay
coast they are caught through out the year. At Karwar, the species ranked second in the
prawn catches landed by the trawlers. The peak season is from January-April in Mangalore,
December-February at Cannarore and February-may in Malabar coast.
the species occurs all the year round in the west coast of India, it abounds the inshore
waters from November-December to May-June and offshore waters in September-October.
individuals belonging to 0-1 year class contribute to the fishery of less saline areas and
the larger sizes (I & II years class) support the inshore fishery.
Gulf of Kutch area, the species contribute about 19% of the total prawn catch during
September-January period. In Bombay coast, the species occur throughout the year, but
available in commercial quantities from October-may with peaks in December-February. In
the Hoogly estuary, the species is dominant in sinter and monsoon months. The species is
mainly confined to the fringes of the coast out to the four-fathom contour. But it may be
found as deep as 7 fathoms. In India the inshore fishing seasons extend from October to
May and the river systems during monsoon.
species forms about 0.6% of the annual prawn landings of India. In Bombay coast, the
species form 3.7% of the total prawn catch, and the fishery starts in November and
continues upto may, the peak season being November and January. The size ranges between
55-65 mm. in case of males and 80-100 mm. in case of females.
backwaters the prawn is caught in large quantities in stake nets, cast nets, drag nets,
dip nets and small scoop nets. In inshore marine fishery the principal types of gear
employed in the capture of prawns are boat seines and shore seines; from the deeper
regions prawns are caught in trawls which prawn is caught in Hoogly estuaries. Besides
small drag nets, dip nets, barrier nets, behundijal are also used for capture
of prawn. Along Bombay coasts, dol net are the main gear for catching prawn.
In Chilka Lake traps are extensively used for catching prawns.
dug outs canoes (4-6 meters long) are the principal craft in use in the backwaters. Larger
dug out (6-10 meters). Canoes and catamarans are used in inshore fishery in the West Coast
of India. On the East Coast plank built canoes and catamarans are in use. The shrimp
trawls are operated from 7-11 metres pablo type wooden boats powered with 10-30 H.P diesel
engines. A few large boats are also operating shrimp trawls.
the increasing potentialities of export of prawns to the world market, a major portion of
the prawn production of our country is being processed, mainly for freezing and the frozen
products sent to U.S.A. and Japan. Only tiny prawns, which do not find export market, are