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Q: Highlight the significance of fisheries sector in India. Discuss the initiatives taken by government to promote fisheries sector in India and suggest            measures to improve the fishery sector. (15 Marks, 250 words)

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India is the second largest producer of fish in the World (14.6 million tonnes in 2019-20) accounting for

about 7.58% of the global production. Of this, 65% is from Inland Fisheries. It is also a fast-growing sector.

Significance of Fishery Sector for India:

  • GVA: GVA of the fishing sector is 1.24% of the National GVA and 7.28% of the Agricultural GVA.
  • Growth: outstanding, double digit average annual growth of 10.87% since 2014-15 with record fish production of 145 lakh tons in FY 2020-21.
  • Employment: The sector supports the livelihood of over 28 million people, especially the marginalized and vulnerable communities.
  • Export earnings from the fishery sector have reached around 50,000 crores.
  • Nutritional and Food Security (fishery fulfills 25% of global protein requirements)
  • The livelihood opportunities provided by this sector have been instrumental in sustaining incomes of over 28 million people in India, especially marginalized and vulnerable communities, and has prompted meaningful socio-economic development.

Key Initiatives by Government to Promote Fishery Sector:

  • Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna (PMMSY):
  • Enhance fish production to 220 lakh metric tons by 2024-25 at an average growth rate of 9%.
  • The scheme envisages an investment of Rs 20 thousand crores in five years
  • Fisheries Rs 9,000 crore will be spent for developing infrastructure (such as fishing harbours, cold chain, markets)
  • and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF)
  • A dedicated Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) was established for five years, from 2018-19 to 2022-23, with an investment of ₹7,522 crore.
  • KCC scheme extended to Animal Husbandry and Fishery Sector by Budget 2018-19
  • A separate department of fisheries

Challenges Faced by Fishery Sector:

  • Unorganized (especially among traditional fisherman)
  • Poor Infrastructure -> capture, processing, and transportation
  • Missing Policy Support -> Fishery sector doesn’t get the kind of subsidy, insurance, credit etc available to agriculture sector.
  • Exotic Species of fish have started threatening the fishery sector.
  • Increasing Pollution is becoming another hinderance in ensuring the proper growth of the fishery sector.
  • Lack of awareness among farmers about the potential and opportunities available from the inland fisheries.
  • Unsustainable exploitation by the corporate sector

Way Forward:

  • Implementation of selected recommendations of Dr Meena Kumari Committee
  • Creation of a buffer zone (between 200 meters and 500 meters depth)
  • Proper use of fishing nets etc.
  • Fishery should be provided with the same focus that is given to Agriculture sector.
  • While agriculture receives a lot of focus in terms of subsidy, insurance, credit, power tariff etc, the fishery sector should also get the same focus.
  • Promote Fish cooperatives.
  • More focus on fishing cooperatives to reduce the limitations of small fishing farmers and fishermen.
  • Training is crucial for enhancing the fishery sector. Inclusive skill development programs, with emphasis on north-eastern and hilly states can help increase the coverage of fishery sector in remote areas.
  • R&D in the sector needs to improve.
  • Improving Deep Sea focused infrastructure

While enhancing incomes through fisheries sector, it is significant to integrate the SDGs of ensuring incomes and livelihoods for poor. Further, the fishery development should be sustainable i.e. all the goals and targets should be achieved keeping future generations in mind and avoiding overexploitation/depletion of marine resources.

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