Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture in India

New Delhi, August 5, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio /  PIB India) Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture in India Inland fisheries resources of India are noted as much for their heterogeneity in composition as for their rich production potential. India is bestowed with vast and varied inland fisheries resources comprising rivers and canals, reservoirs, ponds and tanks, floodplain lakes and wetlands and brackish-waters. Besides, substantial area amenable for cold-water fisheries exists in the medium and higher-altitudes of the Himalayan belt. Inland fisheries including aquaculture have been a vital source of food, nutrition, employment and economic gain for humanity, since ancient times. However, the sector has assumed more significance in recent years, especially in developing countries like India, due to the large contributions to the overall fish production, nutritional security and gainful employment generation.

India is the second largest producer of fish in the world contributing to 5.5 per cent of global fish production. India is also a major producer of fish through aquaculture and ranks second in the world after China. The total fish production achieved during 2010-11 (provisional) is at 8.03 million metric tonnes and the contribution of fish from inland sector alone is at 5.07 million metric tonnes which is about 63% of overall fish production. As per the estimates of Central Statistical Organization (CSO), the values of output from fisheries sector at current price during 2009-10 was 67,913 crore which is 4.9 per cent of the total output of Agriculture and allied sectors. It is one of the major contributors to India’s exports. During 2010-11 (Provisional) the volume of fish and fish products exported was 7,52,791 tonnes worth 12,100 crore.

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector with an annual growth of around 7 per cent. It has been estimated that by the end of XI Five Year Plan (2011-12) the demand for fish and fish products would be around 9.74 million tons, and this increase has to be mostly met from aquaculture and culture based captured fisheries in reservoirs. Taking into consideration the vast aquatic resources in the country, the target seems achievable.

Although, it has long been recognized that fish production from inland waters can play a definite role in mitigating the protein deficiency in India, this resource is not contributing to the nutrition requirement of Indian masses to the extent that it should have been .This has been mainly on account of more emphasis on marine fishery in the past and due to lack of awareness and proper training skills for fishing community.

Recognizing the economic, social, nutritional, environmental and aesthetic importance of inland fisheries and aquaculture, the Government through several measures have aspired to introduce buoyancy in the inland fishery sector .Therefore, to draw the economic, social and nutritional benefits from inland fisheries and aquaculture in a sustainable manner, it has been perceived to adopt a judicious combination of implementation and effective regulatory framework, eco-friendly fishing and aquaculture practices with the larger involvement of the fisher communities and fish farmers.

With this objective in mind, the Government recently drafted model guidelines on Inland fisheries and aquaculture, which has been circulated to all State Governments for effective implementation. Through these guidelines, the Government intends to ensure sustainable fish productive to meet the needs of food and nutritional security, generation of gainful employment in rural sector and to improve the socio-economic condition of the target groups.

The Government recognizes the need for availability of quality seed and feed if the growth in inland fish production has to be sustained in the long run. Therefore, the Government circulated guidelines to all the State Governments for establishment of a seed certification and accreditation system in their respective States. These guidelines, inter-alia, provide procedures for accreditation of hatcheries and seed farms, quality benchmarks, seed certification process and the structure of the implementing agency.

It has been observed that inland fishery today is dominated mainly by the freshwater fishery. In order for enhanced production, there is a need for diversification of fish production in other areas like integrated fish farming, cold water fisheries, river fisheries, capture fisheries, brackish water fishery etc. The recent measures therefore have targeted Intensive Aquaculture in ponds and tanks through integrated fish farming, carp poly-culture, freshwater prawn culture, running water fish culture and development of river fisheries. The reservoir fisheries is being promoted through cage culture and pen culture and by setting up fish rearing units on large scale.

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme –“Development of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture” provide assistance to fish farmers through State Governments, with the objective of developing various components of inland fisheries and aquaculture that include development of freshwater, brackish water, cold water, reservoir fisheries and also to encourage integrated fish farming.

A new mission mode scheme called “National Mission for protein Supplements (NMPS)” was launched very recently with an outlay of Rs 100 crore for undertaking cage and pen culture in reservoirs and for intensive aquaculture in ponds and tanks in 12 identified States with an objective of enhancing the fish production and productivity of reservoirs and ponds and tanks.

All these measures are expected to improve the fisheries and aquaculture sector further and will consolidate the position of India in the Global fish production and aquaculture.

PIB Features, with Inputs from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries

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