A Parliamentary Standing Committee report says the potential of the fisheries sector in India needs more exploring
The potential of the fisheries sector, be it for jobs or fish production or providing foreign exchange earnings, has not been explored well, says a report by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on inland fisheries and aquaculture.
The panel pointed out that the Indian fisheries sector is quite obsolete owing to the lack of technology and technical know-how of deep-sea fishing. It adds that the sector is not even producing as many fishes as it can.
The report titled ‘Scheme on Development of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture’ was tabled in the Parliament recently. Inland fisheries have been growing but the rate of growth, when compared to its potential, seems far away from its desired level, says the panel, chaired by Hukmdev Narayan Yadav.
The report recommends that fisheries be treated on par with agriculture for fisher folk to be able to access institutional credit. According to the report, farmers are facing lack of quality inputs like seeds, feed, health management and marketing support to areas where freshwater fish farming, cold water fishing, coastal aquaculture, brackish water fishing and ornamental fish farming is done. The committee has also raised concerns of unsustainable farming practices leading to environmental damages and loss of indigenous breeds.
This is when India is the second largest producer of fish in the world with 11 million metric tonnes of it produced in 2015-16. The country holds the same spot in inland fish production after China. Since the fisheries sector provides employment to more than 15 million (1.5 crore) people in the country, it occupies an important place in the socio-economic development of the country. The production of fish, which is a rich source of protein, also ensures food and nutritional security.
The panel voiced a need for democratic decentralisation so that states have more say and Centre’s schemes can be merged with states’ to augment production. In the report, the committee has raised concerns that the department does not even have a number of ponds where fish cultivation is possible. Despite getting financial assistance for assessment and development of water bodies, the department has not reported any work, says the committee.
The committee recommends that reservoir fisheries be developed since several reservoirs in India are made on rivers which can be used for farming of inland fishes. “Reservoir fisheries is a thrust area of the department that needs to be taken further to enhance the productivity of reservoirs,” states the report.
The committee also suggests that certification processes for export and import of fish and fish products be effectively implemented. Also, trainings should be conducted to educate traditional fisher folk about modern and beneficial ways of fishing, recommends the committee. Lastly and most importantly, it proposes an insurance cover for fish farmers against natural calamities.
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