Building a Blue Economy

Building a Blue Economy

News: This editorial talks about the potential of Fisheries sector in India and some of the lessons that we can learn from China in this regard.

Important stats about Fisheries sector in India:
 India is the 3rd largest fish producing nation and 2nd largest aquaculture nation in the world. India contributes 7.7% to the global fish production and country ranks 4th in global export of fish products.
 Fisheries provide livelihood to about 15 million fishers and fish-farmers at the primary level, and generates almost twice the number of jobs, along the value-chain — in transportation, cold-storages, and marketing.
 Since Independence, India’s marine fishery has been dominated by the “artisanal sector” – delivering only 2% of marine fish to the market [98% – caught by mechanised craft].
 Commercial fishing has shown steady growth and has become a major contributor to foreign exchange. India – is a leading seafood exporting nation.
 These figures could have been much higher had India invested in a deepwater fleet. Since Indian trawlers do not venture into rich fishing grounds, most of the fishing is being undertaken in coastal waters and our fishermen have to compete with those of neighbours, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in restricted fishing grounds.

Significance of Fisheries sector:
Food security – It provides important food and nutritional resources, especially for rural economies. It addresses “hidden hunger” as fishes are source of essential dietary micro-nutrients.
Economy – Many of fisheries are conducted by the rural poor, often for subsistence and small-scale farming. Fisheries provide livelihood to 15 million fishers and fish farmers at primary level and twice the number along the value chain.
Social – Fisheries provides an identity to major communities around the world. Fisheries form the last resort to work when there is loss of job, war, natural disasters
Environment – Inland fisheries serve as indicators of ecosystem function and ecosystem change.
Empowerment – The sector empowers poor rural communities to fight for their existence, livelihoods and physiological needs. It prevents from poverty and marginalization.

Constraints in growth of Fisheries sector
 Inadequate Infrastructure – Especially, fishing harbors, vessels, cold chain and distribution, nonavailability of skilled manpower
 Climate Change – The rising temperature around the world has made oceans warmer which results in non-conducive environment for fish population to thrive, multiply. Fish cannot adjust their body temperature.
 Over-exploitation of resources – Increased human need for food, minerals within oceans, other broad based needs leads to unsustainable fishing which threats marine ecosystem as a whole.
 Urban development, Degradation, river-dredging
 Invasive species – Introduction of exotic or alien invasive species is one of the greatest global threats to native fish communities
 Low Value addition - Currently, most of India’s fisheries exports are at a low level of value addition — in frozen and chilled form — without going for higher-order “ready-to-eat” or “ready-to-cook” marine products.
 Untapped potential - Rich resources in India’s EEZ remain underexploited and much of the catch from our fishing grounds is taken away by the better equipped fishing fleets of other Indo-Pacific countries.

What is the need of the hour?
India needs to evolve a long-term vision for its fishing industry with focus on four areas:
 Mechanisation and modernisation of fishing vessels by providing communication links and electronic fishdetection devices, with artisanal fishers being funded for this.
 Developing deep-water fishing fleets, with bigger, sea-going trawlers equipped with refrigeration facilities.
 A DWF fleet will have to be built around the “mother ship” concept.
 Development of modern fishing harbours with adequate berthing and post-harvest facilities, including cold storage, preservation, and packaging of fish.

Government initiatives:
 Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampadaya Yojana – Launched in 2019, this schemes aimed to double fishers and fish farmer’s income and generate meaningful employment and enhance contribution of fisheries to Agricultural GVA and exports.
 National Policy on Marine Fisheries 2020 – To develop ecologically healthy, economically viable and socially inclusive fisheries sector. It aims to secure food and nutritional security in a sustainable manner.
 Extending support of Kisan Credit card (KCC) to fishermen and women
 Ministry of Fisheries, Animal husbandry and Dairy – A separate department is extended to ensure focused approach towards this segment 

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