With a coastline of 8,118 km, India harbours a huge potential for its aquaculture and fisheries industry and is already a major supplier and producer of fish in the world. As per National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), India is ranked third in fish production and second in aquaculture in the world. Fisheries contribute 1.07 per cent of the total GDP of the country, which is also 5.15 per cent of the GDP of agriculture, forestry and fishing at current prices.
As per the draft, the Policy seeks to increase production and export earnings from fisheries in the country. According to, DADF, the fish and fish products have presently emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports of India, with 10.51 lakh tonnes in terms of quantity and INR 33,442 crores in value. This accounts for around 10 per cent of the total exports of the country and nearly 20 per cent of the agricultural exports. The targeted export earnings, from fish and fish products of the country is estimated to increase from INR 33,442 crore in 2014-15 to INR 1, 00,000 crore in the next five years, which is almost a three-fold increase in the earnings. Also, the government will invest INR 3,000 crore in fulfilling the schemes proposed in the new Policy, for a period of five years. The scheme could be a great success for India and the Indian fishing industry if implemented efficiently.
Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, in his speech on November 6, 2015 (Press Information Bureau), while addressing the committee in Varanasi said that the Policy would be introducing new techniques for sustainable utilisation of resources, economic prosperity, employment generation, empowerment of fishermen, and fulfilling the nutritional security to the malnourished population of the country.
The draft states that while re-defining its strategy for the fisheries sector, the government is now focused on bringing in ‘Blue Revolution’ by sustainable utilisation of the fisheries wealth from the marine resources of the country for improving the lives and livelihoods of fishers and their families.
Dr. Khushro Moin, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, asserts that the upcoming policy is not going to be easy to implement since there is a social sector issue linked with it. He further says “the Policy, which Ministry of Agriculture is planning, would require proper implementation at grass root level. The fishermen of India are yet not well equipped with modern technology in fishing, and thus, training and counselling both would be required.” According to him the Policy’s expected limitations cannot be ignored.
“It is an intense programme and it would be highly required to support the fishers, especially financially, by either providing them soft loans, or through public investment. Sustainability is a big issue here. Pollution can be very hard to tackle and can affect the fisheries in itself” concludes Moin.
Also, according to Dr. K. Ravindranath, Senior Consultant, National Fisheries Development Board, “the upcoming policy would help in facilitating the development of fishermen at grass root level. The Policy would be nothing without the people associated, either be it the fishermen or the marine plant farmers. They would be helped in all forms – economically, and even technically.”
Dr. V. Sampath, Consultant, World Bank APART Project, in conversation with our correspondent opined that the second draft was more relevant for the welfare of local fishers. He added “the second draft gives much attention to the local fishermen and even accords greater value to gender equity”.
The Policy’s sustainability in the long run, however, requires to be carefully analysed. The coastal fisheries have already severely exploited. ‘Blue Revolution’ is geared up to utilise the water resources that are less explored, especially deep-sea fisheries resources. As in the case of green revolution, initially it helped out in achieving the sustainability in terms of agricultural produce. Despite that, it’s setbacks in the long run proved to be destructive in nature. The richer states who could afford the cost incurred due to the revolution benefitted the most. It created economic disparities within the country and reduced soil fertility with excessive use of fertilizers. Similarly, the ‘Blue Revolution’ may come with its own set of advantages and limitations, which must be taken into the considerations prior to its formulation and implementation. Although the proposed Policy focuses on sustainable fish production and utilisation, employment of local fishermen and their livelihoods and attempts to recognise gender roles at grassroots, whether it will lead to food security, better nutrition, wealth and prosperity will have to be seen. With the climate change exacerbating the anthropogenically disturbed aquatic ecosystem, further unmonitored and unscientific commercial activities may deplete rather than replenish the fishery sector of the nation.