Context: Blue revolution in India and its significance.
Blue Revolution (Neel Kranti Mission) has the vision to achieve economic prosperity of the country and the fishers and fish farmers as well as contribute towards food and nutritional security through full potential utilization of water resources for fisheries development in a sustainable manner, while keeping in view the bio-security and environmental concerns. The Neel Kranti Mission will have multi-dimensional approach to all activities concerned with development of the fisheries sector as a modern world-class industry in India.
Need of Blue Revolution and its impact on Indian Economy:
- Doubling the farmer’s income: The fisheries sector is growing at 7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). With this growth the target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 will be realized.
- Employment potential: more than 14 million people are employed in fisheries sector directly or indirectly. With increasing labor force in coming future fisheries sector look promising to accommodate the labor force.
- Locational factors: Over 8,000 kilometers of coastline, 4 million hectares of reservoirs, 2 million hectares of brackish water and nearly 51,000 square kilometers of continental shelf area offers a plethora of opportunities for the growth of marine and fish industry of India.
- Export potential: In the face of continued uncertainties in the global seafood trade, India has been able to cling on to its position as a leading supplier of frozen shrimp and frozen fish in international markets .The fisheries sector export rise 19.1% in 2017-18 compare to the previous year. In other words fisheries sector earned $ 7.08 billion against $ 5.77 in 2016-17.
- Growing demand: Presently world production is 171 million tonnes and by 2025 it would be around 250 million tones. More than 100 countries taste Indian sea food, so the demand for Indian sea food also increases. Governments both central and state should tap the growing demand.
- Comparative advantage: increasing marine fish depletion throughout the world will give the opportunity to Indian aquaculture. Presently more than 60% of fish production comes from inland aquaculture.
- Nutritional support: according to global nutrition report 38% of children under age 5 are stunted, 21% children are wasted and india is home to highest anaemia among women. Consumption of fish is the key to good health. It is especially crucial for women during pregnancy and lactation. The so-called 1,000-day window from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday promotes a child’s proper physical and mental development. The nutrients in fish promote optimal brain development, regulate the immune system and build healthy bones.
- Processing:The fish industry utilizes only one percent of the total cold storage capacity available in the country today. Further, while three-fourths of fish harvested in India is marketed in fresh form, there is a strong need for the cold chain industry to come up with innovative & cost effective transportation and storage facilities to ensure supply of superior product to the consumer.
Challenges facing fisheries sector in India:
- Unorganized and fragmented: Fishery is a state subject under the constitution of India but very few states have dedicated bodies for the development and marketing of fish produced in the state. Domestic market has the bulk share in context to the marketing of the fish produced in the country i.e. 85% of the produce which is highly unorganized and scattered.
- Deep sea fishing:presently 90% of the marine fish landings are coming from within 50meters of inshore deep waters through artisanal, traditional, mechanized vessels. India had huge exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 2 million square km, hardly any resource to tap this potential.
- Mechanized trawling: mechanization of fishing vessels and use of synthetic gear materials brought in drastic changes in the coastal areas. The effect of mechanization was depletion of fish and drastic decrease of fish production. Trawling technology also leads to environmental depletion as trawling net scraps the bottom of the sea
- Storage:Although a scheme on infrastructural facility for preservation and processing of fish is provided for creation of additional facilities under the Department of Food Processing Industries scheme yet the same cannot be utilized unless food parks are planned in areas close to the fishing/ processing centre’s. More than 17 food parks are sanctioned but no one park is focused on fisheries.
- Lack of value addition: normally unit value of frozen fish could be increased through promotion of filleting, formulation of breaded & battered products, other ready to cook/eat products in consumer packs. But in India only 10% of fish production is processed and because of these only 1/10th of fish production is exported.
- Technology up gradation:In India aquaculture productivity is almost stagnated or in the phase of decline because due to lack of timely up gradation of technology. The broad areas of fish production affected by technology gap would include, alternate species to shrimp for coastal aquaculture, mariculture technology in respect of crab, mussels, oysters, lobster, ornamental fish etc, and Intensive aquaculture.
- Safety concerns: big importers like the European Union, South Africa and the US have stepped up testing measures for marine product consignments shipped from India. Shipments are now more frequently being tested for antibiotic residue, especially for internationally banned antibiotics such as Nitrofuran, and contaminated shipments are rejected and shipped back at significant costs.
Measures to improve the fisheries sector in India:
- Blue Revolution: Realizing the immense scope for development of fisheries and aquaculture, the Government of India has restructured the Central Plan Scheme under an umbrella of Blue Revolution. The restructured Central Sector Scheme on Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries (CSS) approved by the Government provides for a focused development and management of the fisheries.
- Development fund: Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) has also approved the setting up of a dedicated Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) worth Rs.7,522crore to fill the large infrastructure gaps in fisheries sector in the country through developing infrastructure projects such as fishing harbours/ fish landing centres, fish seed farms, fish feed mills/plants, setting up of disease diagnostic and aquatic quarantine facilities, creation of cold chain infrastructure facilities such as ice plants, cold storage, fish transport facilities, fish processing units, fish markets, etc.
- Fisheries in rain fed areas: Fisheries in rainfed areas have immense potential. Small reservoirs, tanks, water harvesting ponds created as a part of watershed development or MGNREGS and wetlands in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal etc. that dot the landscapes of rainfed areas have potential for fisheries development. An estimated 1.2 million ha of water spread area exists with fishery potential across the country. So the government should frame the guidelines to tap this potential.
- Processing and storage: under pradhan mantra kisan SAMPADA yojana scheme, government creating a chain cold storage and logistics, Mega food parks and storage vehicles. So the food processing ministry should focus on creating integrated cold storage to develop fisheries sector in India.
- Quality: there are only 84 processing plants, 147 processing units for processing of fisheries sector with Europe Union certified. It is very minimal number, so the government should increase processing plants to improve quality of sea food.
Way forward: Fisheries is a sunrise sector with diverse resources and potentials. The requirement for fish and fish products are increasing steadily and expected to touch 16 million tonnes by 2025 of which atleast 12 million tonnes would be required to be met from inland sector and aquaculture is expected to provide over 10 million tonnes. With action plans indicated with matching investments in the sector, it is expected that the sector would increasingly contribute to the food and nutritional security and sustain the livelihoods of the people employed directly and indirectly in addition to earning foreign exchange. It is necessary to put in appropriate and enabling policy framework capacity building at different levels is duly addressed and extension mechanism strengthened. As capture fisheries is still an important component of Indian fisheries, due importance needs to be given to habitat restoration and biodiversity conservation in different eco systems.