Fisheries in India is a very important economic activity and a flourishing sector with varied resources and potential, engaging over 14.50 million people at the primary level. The vibrancy of the sector can be visualized by the transformation of the Fisheries in India from traditional to commercial scale which has led to 11 fold increase that India achieved in fish production in just six decades, i.e. from 7.5 lakh tonne in 1950 51 to 107.95 lakh tonne during 2015-16.
The sector registered an overall annual growth rate of about 4% during the 11th Five-Year Plan. It has contributed about 0.91% to the National Gross Domestic Production (GDP) and 5.23% to the agricultural GDP. Besides meeting the national protein demand and livelihood, Fisheries in India also earn foreign exchange to the tune of US$ 5.51billion (2014-15). This justifies the importance of the sector on the country’s food, economy, and livelihood security.
Constituting about 6.30% of the global fish production and 5% of global trade, India has attained the second-largest fish-producing and second-largest aquaculture-producing nation in the world.
Fisheries in India
Considering the limited scope of the capture fisheries from coastal waters and natural inland waters like rivers and estuaries, emphasis is on aquaculture and culture-based Fisheries in India. From reservoirs and floodplain wetlands to meet the targeted fish requirement of 8.3 million tons by 2020 is appropriate considering the availability of vast water resources, rich cultivable species diversity, sound technological know-how, and strong human resource.
Holding the challenges, and realizing the high potential in the sector, the Hon’ble Prime Minister has called for “a revolution” in the Fisheries in India and has named it as “Blue revolution” (Neel Kranti Mission), with the vision of “Creating an enabling environment for integrated development of the full potential of fisheries of the country, along with substantial improvement in the income status of fishers and fish farmers keeping in view the sustainability, biosecurity, and environmental concerns.”
Objectives of Fisheries in India
- To fully tap the total fish potential of the country both in the inland and the marine sector and triple the production by 2020.
- To transform the Fisheries in India into a modern industry with a special focus on new technologies and processes.
- To double the income of the fishers and fish farmers with a special focus on increasing productivity and better marketing, post-harvest infrastructure including e-commerce and other technologies and global best innovations.
- To ensure the inclusive of the fishers and fish farmers in the income enhancement.
- To triple the export earnings by 2020 with a focus on benefits flow to the fishers and fish farmers including through institutional mechanisms in the co-operative, producer companies, and other structures.
- To enhance the food and nutritional security of the country.
Strategy: Central Sector Assistance Schemes
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries has accordingly restructured the scheme by merging all the ongoing schemes under an umbrella of Blue Revolution. To provides focused development and management of fisheries, covering inland fisheries, aquaculture, and marine fisheries including deep sea fishing, mariculture, and all activities undertaken by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).
The restructured Plan Scheme on “Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries” has been approved at a total central outlay of 3,000 crores for implementation during a period of five years (2015-16 to 2019-20) with the following components:
- National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) and its activities
- Development of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture
- Development of Marine Fisheries, Infrastructure, and Post-Harvest operations
- Strengthening of Database & Geographical Information System of the Fisheries Sector
- Institutional Arrangement for Fisheries in India
- Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) and other need-based Interventions
- National Scheme of Welfare of Fishermen
National Policy on Marine Fisheries in India
The overall strategy of the NPMF, 2016 will be based on the five pillars of sustainable development, principle of subsidiarity, partnerships, intergenerational equity, and precautionary approach. These five pillars will guide the actions of various stakeholders in meeting the vision and mission of NPMF. While fishers will be at the core of this Policy, actions will also be guided by the ‘Public Trust Doctrine:
It is expected that through the implementation of NPMF, 2016, the marine fisheries in India will become a sustainable and well-managed entity, ensuring enhanced utilization of the harvest for human consumption; employment, gender equity, and livelihoods; equity and equality, provision of food security and nutrition.
Freshwater aquaculture forms a major share of Indian fisheries production. It is only the three Indian major carps, which share as much as 1.6 million MT. With technological inputs, entrepreneurial initiatives, and financial investments, Freshwater aquaculture has gone up from 500-600 kg/ha/yr to over 2000 kg/ha/yr. Besides IMC other species like catfishes, freshwater prawns, and mollusks for pearl culture have also been brought into the culture systems.
In addition, a range of non-conventional culture systems, like sewage-fed fish culture, integrated farming systems, cage, and pen culture, and running water fish culture have made freshwater aquaculture a growing activity across the country.
Catfishes have great commercial importance. Magur (Clarias batrachus) and Singhi (Hetero-pneustes fossils) are the two air-breathing candidate species for culture. Several other non-air breathing catfishes like Mystus seenghala, Pangasius pangasius, Wallago Attu, and Ompak panda are also being cultured in view of the high consumer preference.
Freshwater Prawn Culture
The giant freshwater prawn, (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is the largest and fastest-growing species among freshwater prawns. The development of hatchery technology for M. rosenbergii and later, for the Indian river prawn, M. malcolmsonii has opened up new possibilities for freshwater aquaculture.
Freshwater Pearl Culture
Freshwater Pearl Culture research in past decades has not only led to the development of the base technology of pearl production from freshwater mussel species, viz., Lamellidens marginalis, L.corrianus, and Parreysia corrugator, but also standardized the different steps involved for its production.
Integrated Fish Culture
Integrated fish farming is the combination of two or more separate farming systems where the waste from one subsystem is utilized for the sustenance of the other. For example, fish-pig/poultry/duck farming. The system provides considerable potential and scope for augmenting production, and also offers enormous scope for employment generation and the rural economy.
Sewage-fed Fish Culture
Sewage-fed fish culture in Bheries of West Bengal is an age-old practice. An area of about 5,700ha is still utilized for growing fish by intake of raw sewage into the system and as much as 7000 MT of fish, mainly contributed by carp, are produced annually from these water bodies.
Ornamental Fish Culture
Ornamental fish form an important commercial component of Fisheries in India with a world trade of over USD 7 billion. India has over one hundred varieties of indigenous and exotic species that are bred in captivity. The export of ornamental fish from the country is about 10 million, whereas the potential has been estimated to be US$ 30 million. The establishment of commercial breeding and culture farms can help in its growth.
Coldwater Development of Fisheries in India
The country possesses significant water bodies both in the Himalayan region and western ghats, which hold large populations of both indigenous and exotic cultivable and non-cultivable cold water fish species. Important food fishes in the region are Mahaseers and Schizothoracids among the indigenous species and Trouts among the exotic varieties.
Brackish Water Aquaculture
The country possesses huge brackish water resources of over 1.2 million hectares suitable for farming. But the total area under cultivation is just 13 percent of the potential water area. Shrimp contributes to almost the total production of the sector. Black tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) contributes the lion’s share. The culture of crab species like Scylla Serrata and S. tranquebarica has also been taken up.
Semi-Intensive Shrimp Culture
This culture practice mainly with black tiger prawn has shown production levels of 4-6 MT/ha in a crop of 4-5 months. The high return of shrimp farming in the country led to a multi-billion dollar industry. Further, Mullets and milkfish are important cultivable brackishwater herbivorous fish, with high growth potential. Seed production technology of seabass (Lates calcarifer) has already been commercialized.
Mariculture (Cage & Pen Culture)
Mariculture has the potential to augment production and incomes through coastal as well as open-sea farming. It is only an emerging sector. The potential cultivable candidate fin fishes are groupers, cobia, sea bass, pompano, snappers, and sea bream. In recent years, open sea cage farming is expanding on a global basis. In India, the sea bass was farmed in cages off Balasore, Odisha. Pens are usually constructed in shallow margins of reservoirs, tanks, and oxbow lakes. The system has great potential considering the availability of a large extent of water resources in terms of reservoirs, swamps, and oxbow lakes in the country.
The green mussel, Perna Viridis, and the brown mussel, Perna India are the two important mussel species available in the country. Mussel farming is carried out either in rafts or by long-line methods.
Edible Oyster Culture
The technique of oyster farming consists of two items, collection of spat and growing the spat to the adult stage. Crassostrea madrasensis is the only species that is found to be important for commercial farming. The species reach harvestable size (80 mm) in a culture period of 7-8 months and production levels of 8-10 MT of shell on oysters/ha are obtained.
The success of marine pearl culture in India was achieved in 1973. Raft culture techniques are followed for the culture of pearl oysters and the important species being Pinctada fucata.
Seaweed forms an important component of marine living resources, available largely in shallow seas. Agar agar and algin are two principal industrial products of seaweeds. Seaweed is also used as food, fodder, fertilizers and in several other industrial and pharmaceutical products. The seaweed culture technologies have been standardized achieving a production rate of 120 MT/ha/year.
Conclusion on Fisheries in India
Possessing 2.4 percent of the global land area, India sustains 16 percent of the world’s population. Increasing per capita fish availability from the present level of only 8 kg to 11 kg (as recommended by the World Health Organization) is the primary challenge for the country. Considering the limited scope of the capture Fisheries in India from coastal waters and natural inland waters like rivers and estuaries, emphasis on aquaculture and culture-based fisheries from reservoirs and floodplain wetlands to meet the targeted fish requirement of 8.3 million tons by 2020 is appropriate considering the availability of vast water resources, rich cultivable species diversity, sound technological know-how and strong human resource.