New Zealand’s reputed aquarium-maker firm Marinescape is determined and committed to staying in India’s growing market for the long run, says Managing Director Ian Mellsop.

Marinescape is involved in the setting up of an aquatic gallery at Ahmadabad’s Science City, which was inaugurated by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 16.

Marinescape MD Ian Mellsop on ground in Ahamedabad managing Science City Project

While the inauguration has attracted domestic attention for another expansion of the footprint of the world-class “Science City” project in the Indian state of Gujarat, here in New Zealand, it is another story of growing bilateral business and trade relations between the two countries.

Ian Mellsop, the Managing Director of the reputed firm that has worked in 20 different countries in the last 30 years including in Auckland’s local popular tourist destination Kelly Tarlton, told the Indian Weekender that his firm was for a long stay in the Indian market.

For uninitiated Marinescape has also earlier designed the VGP Marine Kingdom in Chennai in India, including an underground tunnel aquarium and had an earlier than planned exit.

“Everyone knows that India’s market can have its own challenges with different kinds of regulations in different states, but it is equally exhilarating,” Ian said.

“The changing demography, the rising purchasing power and the accompanied change in the taste and the appetite of the growing Indian middle class have changed the consumer demand for attractions like aquariums, something we at Mariescape excel at,” Ian said.

“In the Ahmedabad Science City project, we had a joint venture with the local firm Shapoorji Pallonji for an end-to-end work on aquatic gallery,” Ian said.

“Our role in the 260 crores (INR) project is to provide exhibit and technical support and to maintain the gallery for a period of five years at least (as a part of Shapoorji Pallonji-Marinescape JV),” Ian said.

According to an official statement from Science City, the construction and maintenance cost Rs 260 crore, and the aquatic gallery is “expected to be the largest public aquarium in India.”

Marinescape will be handling installations, procurement of the marine species, and quarantining the marine species.

Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Mellsop said, “No Aquatic life forms was sourced from New Zealand for the project.”

“It has been sourced from different places such as South Africa, Indonesia and other countries in Asia,” Mellsop said.

The aquatic gallery is sprawled over an area of over 15,000 square metres, 68 tanks comprising freshwater, brackish water and marine water, 188 marine species, including amphibians and penguins, numbering in 11,690, are expected to be housed.

More about Marinescape’s India operations

 The covid-pandemic in India and the accompanied restrictions of movement, both within India and globally has been very restrictive in the last one year for Marinescape’s India operations.

“We experienced great difficulties generally associated with Covid restrictions in India including inability of myself and any expat staff to travel to India since February 2020.Wheras previously I personally and up to four other NZ staff were used to spending 4 weeks out of every six weeks on the ground in India,” Mellsop said.

However, the firm was able to overcome those hindrances through sheer determination and resourcefulness and working towards completion of the first phase of the project.

NZ supplied all the specialist design and show how and know-how which was the typical NZ traditional ingenuity, enthusiasm coupled with cutting edge technology.

Marinescape has provided an initial investment of NZD $4 million into this Indian Venture and created around 100 full time jobs for the local Indian work force.

“Our Indian Company Marinescape India Private Ltd [MSIPL] is actively seeking further investment to expand our Indian operations in the rapidly burgeoning Indian Market.”

“Currently MSIPL has around 1000 Cr (NZD $ 200 million) worth of works under negotiation,” Ian said.

Revealing more about Marinescape’s previous operations in India, Mellsop said, “We are not new in India and are excited about this latest Ahmedabad project, and we plan to stay.”