Why in News?
National Policy on Marine Fisheries was launched recently by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
- India is the second largest producer of fish in the world contributing to 5.43% of global fish production.
- India is also a major producer of fish through aquaculture and ranks second in the world after China.
- After Independence, fish production has been increased from 7.5 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 100.70 lakh tonnes during 2014-15.
- Marine Fisheries is the fastest growing food producing sector in the world with a great potential to meet the food, especially protein requirement of a large number of population.
- After 2015 report of B. Meenakumari on deep sea fishing, the government had decided to revise the existing Marine Fisheries policy of 2004.
About the Policy
- The aim of the policy is to ensure the health and ecological integrity of the marine living resources of India’s EEZ through sustainable harvests.
- The overall strategy would be based on seven pillars, namely sustainable development, socio-economic upliftment of fishers, principle of subsidiarity, partnership, inter-generational equity, gender justice and precautionary approach.
- The policy would be in line with the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries on conservation, development and management of fisheries.
Some of the provisions of the policy are –
Monitoring, Control and surveillance (to prevent accidents and trespassing)
- For better monitoring and surveillance, chip-based smart registration cards for fishermen and their fishing vessels would be introduced.
- Training and awareness would be given to fishermen to avoid crossing the International marine boundary line (IMBL).
Integrated approach on fisheries management –
- Species-specific and area-specific management plans with spatial and temporal measures for sustainable utilization of resources.
- Consevation of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and Vulnerable Marine
- Ecosystems (VMEs), endangered species etc.
- It would blend traditional knowledge and scientific business principles.
- Use of Information technology and space technology for improving the capacities of the fishing community. E.g. Using these to forecast weather
Traditional Use Rights for Fisheries (areas where mechanized fishing is prohibited and small scale fishers are allowed) would be continued.
Government would also introduce schemes to skill traditional fishers.
Commercializing Fisheries –
- Fisheries Data and Research – Government would implement a National Marine Fisheries Data Acquisition Plan with all stakeholders.
- Mariculture – Government will encourage schemes to set up mariculture farms/parks and setting up of hatcheries for supply of seed for development of the sector. There would also be a focus on preventing post-harvest losses.
- Island Fisheries – India’s islands would be exploited for the lucrative and commercial value fisheries like Tuna, snapper, groupers etc. Krill fishing would also be promoted in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ).
- Fisheries Trade – Government would focus on diversifying trade market, harmonizing FSSAI standards with international bodies, reducing the influence of middlemen and eco labelling of fishes.
- Entrepreneurship development, private investment, public private partnership for marine fisherie sector will be encouraged.
- Government with the help of NABARD will provide institutional credit to the fishers.
Marine environment and Fisheries –
- Review and periodically evaluate existing marine protected areas (MPAs)
- It would provide legislative support to ensure tenure rights of traditional fishermen so that their livelihood is not affected by conservation measures.
- Monitoring and surveillance will ensure that Indian fishing fleet do not engage in ‘Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated’ (IUU) fishing.
- Women SHGs would be promoted in the women dominated post harvest sector of fisheries.
- The policy if well implemented would promote SDG Goal 14 of conserving and sustainably using Oceans, Seas and Marine resources for Sustainable development.
- It would also help in boosting the primary sector of our economy and improve its growth rate Challenges
- The policy recommends rescinding Letter of Permit scheme thus allowing private investments in deep sea fishing (as recommended by B. Meenakumari committee). This may threaten the small scale and traditional fishers community.
- Some State recommendations like a separate Ministry of Fisheries, extending the territorial limit of States etc. have not been taken up in the policy.
- Recently the government has formulated an umbrella scheme ‘Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries’ by merging all the existing schemes. This umbrella scheme will cover inland fisheries, aquaculture and marine fisheries including deep sea fishing, mari culture and all activities undertaken by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).
- The government should make this policy in tandem with the scheme to promote Blue revolution in the country.