Enhancing fishery sustainability, reassessing existing regulations and use of fishery resources including number of fishing vessels and equipment and implementing uniform rules for the fisheries sector were some of the suggestions thrown up at a meeting of the fishery sector stakeholders jointly organised by the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) and the Indian Marine Ingredients Association (IMIA).

The event attended by fishermen, allied workers, sea food processors, fish meal manufacturers, aqua feed producers and farmers from various coastal states appealed to the government to enforce rigorous regulations concerning hygiene and quality control from the landing centres to the processing plants.

Inaugurating the meeting T. Pradeep Kumar, Vice Chancellor of KUFOS, stressed the importance of fisheries sustainability to enhance local livelihood and global competitiveness. He called for initiating discussions to tackle sector challenges and maximising opportunities, especially in the light of some adverse reports on Indian products from the major importers which could affect exporters and fisher folk as it will lead to poor demand and price.

K.C. Veeranna, Vice Chancellor, Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University highlighted the socio-economic face of the fisheries sector as it contributed to the livelihoods and nutritional security of the coastal communities.

Mohamed Dawood Sait, President of Indian Marine Ingredients Association, wanted the scientific community to provide reliable data on the catch composition to ensure the sustainability of the sector through Marine Trust Certification.

Globally, he said, fish in fish out ratio show 1 kg of marine raw material yields 5 kg of farmed fish across various production systems, converting, in the process, the fish that do not have a food market into five times the volume.

According to him, currently the feed manufacturers purchase fishmeal from Indian producers at a price around ₹96 per kg, which is lower than the cost of production that works out to ₹125 per kg of fish meal excluding additional expenses such as production costs, transportation, GST, and industry margins. This happens at a time when fishmeal industry ensures a guaranteed price to fishermen by selling to international buyers at premium prices and addresses the pollution issue by converting waste into a valuable product, Sait said.

During the discussions, led by Dinesh Kaippilly, Registrar of KUFOS, the participants primarily the fishermen voiced concerns over the recent negative assessments of India’s shrimp industry and stringent regulations for certification when they are unsure about better price.