The historical background of Mandapam Regional Centre of CMFRI essentially recapitulates the establishment and early growth of the Institute. The Institute which initially started functioning at the Zoology laboratory building of the Madras University since 3rd February, 1947, was subsequently shifted to Mandapam Camp during 1949. The headquarters of CMFRI was at Mandapam Camp from 1949 to 1971 in the Naval Building Complex which was acquired and modified into laboratories and other facilities. In the year 1971, the headquarters was shifted to Cochin and thereafter the establishment was renamed as Mandapam Regional Centre of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute and is the largest Regional Centre of CMFRI. It is located two kilometers away from Mandapam Camp on an impressive and picturesque elevated sand dune overseeing the Palk Bay in the north and Gulf of Mannar in the south.
The shallow, unpolluted seawater and the coral reef habitat of the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar offer an ideal location for carrying out research on Mariculture, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Environment and Marine Capture Fisheries. Pioneering research on marine ecology, biodiversity, capture fisheries and mariculture were made here. These contributions still remain as the major milestones of knowledge in these areas.
The assessment of exploited marine fishery resources and the investigations on fishery and biological characteristics of the major resources of the east coast of India carried out at the Centre have contributed to the development of management advisories for sustaining the capture fishery resources of the coast. The Gulf of Mannar is known to be a marine biodiversity hotspot and has been declared as the first Marine National Park of India. Investigations on the coral reef and sea grass ecosystems have generated a treasure house of information which will be of immense value for the conservation and management of this biosphere reserve. Studies on corals of Indian seas were initiated and the first International Coral Symposium was organized here. Seaweed research in India was pioneered at this centre and technology for seaweed culture was developed and popularized.
Research on scaling up of marine pearl production was undertaken here. Techniques were developed for seed production of green tiger shrimp Penaeus semisulcatus and blue swimmer crab, Portunus pelagicus. Mass scale Sea Ranching of P. semisulcatus for stock enhancement was experimented. Seed production techniques were developed and standardized for 6 species of Ornamental fishes which are of good demand in the international market. The broodstock development of high value finfishes was initiated in sea cages. Broodstock development, induced breeding and seed production is now successfully accomplished in Cobia, Rachycentron canadum and Pompano, Trachinotus blochii for the first time in India.