Out of an estimated 30 million species of flora and fauna on earth, the catalogued list is only 1.4 million species, with nearly 20 percent from the oceans. However, the exploited marine resources belong to a few hundreds of species only. Most countries, including India, have relied on coastal fishing to provide for the protein requirements of their population. Coastal fishing is a source of sustenance , subsistence and employment for a significant section of the population. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s report (OECD) the oceans contribute 1.5 trillion dollars annually in the value added to the economy of a country.
Below is the country wise total aquaculture produce of some leading aquaculture producers of the world, based on data from OECD (In tonnes):
The Indian Scenario
The main objectives of the fishery development are to optimize production and productivity along with employment generation, improved socio-economic conditions for fisherfolks, augmentation of exports and adopting an integrated approach to marine and inland fisheries as well as aquaculture, taking into account the needs for responsible and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
The fisheries sector occupies a very important place in the socio-economic development of India. The sector has been recognised as a powerful income and employment generator as it stimulates the growth of a number of subsidiary industries and is a source of cheap and nutritious food. More than 1.4 million fishermen and fish farmers in the country depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood. The fisheries sector is also one of the major foreign exchange earners through export.
India is the third largest producer of fish in the world. India produced 11409.45 tonnes of fish in the time period of 2016-2017 according to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries of India’s report. Below is the state wise distribution of fish production in the country of India based on data from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries of India 2016-2017:
|Sl.No.||State||Total Fish production (in tonnes)|
|10.||Jammu and Kashmir||18.80|
|30.||Andaman and Nicobar Islands||38.81|
|32.||Dadra and Nagar Haveli||0.00|
|33.||Daman and Diu||24.02|
According to the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB)under the Government of India, over 14 million people are engaged in the fisheries sector of the country. Also, the Indian fisheries sector is a vital player in providing nutrition to the food basket of the country. The fisheries contribute 1.1 percent in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 5.15 per cent of the agricultural GDP of the Country.
Fish and fish products have emerged as one of the largest sectors in the agricultural exports of India. According to the NFDB 10.51 lakh tonnes of fish and fish products in terms of quantity and Rs 33,442 crores in monetary value, have been exported during the current financial year. This accounts to almost 10 percent of the total export done in the country and 20 percent of the total agricultural exports done in this financial year. India exports over 50 different types of fish and shellfish products in 75 different countries of the world.
Below is the table for the Marine Fishery resources in India for the year of 2018, as recorded by the NFDB:
|Exclusive Economic Zone||2.02 million sq. km|
|Continental Shelf||0.506 million sq. km|
|Rivers and Canals||1.91,024 km|
|Reservoirs||3.15 million hectares|
|Ponds and Tanks||2.35 million hectares|
|Oxbow lakes and derelict waters||1.3 million hectares|
|brackish waters||1.24 million hectares|
|Estuaries||0.29 million hectares|
India, with its long coastline of 8129 kms and equally large area under estuaries, backwaters and lagoons is highly amenable for developing capture as well as cultural fisheries.
Potentially high benefits come with equally high risks of ecological deterioration through overfishing, killing of unwanted by-catch and habitual destruction.
Commercialization and over capitalism of the fishing sector coupled with the growing demand for marine products in both domestic and export markets have led to competition among various categories of fishers and resorting to unsustainable and destructive types fishing practices. It is therefore, important to integrate fisheries into coastal zone management for ensuring sustainable yields, while protecting the valuable areas and species.
Indian Fisheries – Problems and issues
Unsustainable lifestyles of the affluent sections of the population and the possible inability to meet the genuine needs of the poor for food, fuel, fodder and water have contributed to the general degradation of the environment in the recent years.
The marine fisheries sector was only at a subsistence level before Independence, marked by the use of small scale crafts and gear operating close to the shore. The introduction of small mechanized boats with trawl nets has resulted in the continental shelf. In the early seventies, purse seiners were introduced for the first time to exploit pelagic fishery resources.
Indigenous crafts were motorized first in Gujarat and later in all the maritime states. From the mid-seventies larger fishing vessels and sophisticated fishing gear has been used. Besides purse seiners, high opening fish trawl nets are also employed to catch fish at greater depths as well as in the columnar waters. The conventional cotton yarn used for fabrication of nets has been replaced by stronger and more efficient synthetic material. Infrastructure for handling , preservation , processing and marketing of fish has also improved with the setting up of ice plants and storage facilities. Major and minor fishery harbours complete with berthing facilities and road links to fish landing centres have been created. These efforts have boosted the export quantities of marine products.
Aquatic pollution and habitat destruction of the coastal waters deeply affect the sustainability of fisheries and quality of fishery products. Major coastal activities causing pollution include discharge of raw or partially treated industrial and urban wastes, harbour activities including fish landing, cargo handling, dumping of ship washings, spilling of oil, ores, oil exploration, oil slicks, land runoff etc. Industrial coolant water discharge, municipal wastewater, chlor-alkali factory wastes, dredging and dumping of sediments from harbours, use of antifouling paints etc, have loaded our coastal waters with heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and zinc.
The primary aim of conserving and management of the Fishery resources at this time when every natural resource of the planet is struggling against extinction is very difficult. Measures must be taken immediately for the better understanding and sustainable exploitation of fish stock. However, any measure of compulsory reduction of the fishing effort should be coupled with social support measures for the fishermen.