Union Minister of Fisheries Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Parshottam Rupala on Tuesday said the Centre’s increased focus on the fisheries sector in the last decade has substantially boosted fish and aquaculture production.

Since 2015, the Centre has substantially stepped up public investments to the tune of ₹38,572 crore in the fisheries sector. Due to the investments, India is the second largest aquaculture producer and third largest fish producer in the world. India’s fish production increased to a record 17.4 million tonnes (provisional) in 2022-23. Fish production from inland aquaculture increased to 13.13 million tonnes in 2022-23, he said.

The Centre has in the last nine years ushered in transformational changes/reforms through multi-pronged strategies and focused interventions in the areas of fish production and productivity, technology infusion, strengthening and modernisation of infrastructure, boosting domestic consumption and exports, growth of entrepreneurship and employment with the welfare of fishers and fish farmers at the core, he said.

Exports doubled

India’s seafood exports have more than doubled in the last nine years with record exports of ₹63,969 crore in 2022-23. Similarly, shrimp exports more than doubled in the last nine years with exports of ₹43,135 crore, he said.

The minister was addressing the international conclave on the theme ‘Mainstreaming Climate Change in to International Fisheries Governance and Strengthening of Fisheries Management Measures in the Indo-Pacific Region’ at Mahabalipuram. Officials from 16 regional fisheries bodies from the Indo-Pacific region representing over 80 countries are present at the two-day conference that began on Tuesday.

India’s fisheries sector provides livelihood for around 2.8 crores fishers and contributes about 1.24 per cent to the national GDP, he said.

During the last nine years, about 61.9 lakh jobs were generated under Schemes & Programs. Some 6 lakh fisher families annually are provided with livelihood and nutritional support during fishing ban/lean period. 33 lakh fishermen have been insured under Group Accident Insurance Scheme in FY 2022-23 and 1 lakh transponders are being installed for monitoring, controlling and surveillance of marine fishing vessels/boats in sea.

The inland fisheries sector has seen tremendous growth as small-scale and big aquaprenuers entered the sector and to ensure ‘More crop per drop’ the technologies offered in the sector have become very popular, he said.

Climate impacts

Highlighting adverse impacts of climate change in marine fisheries sector, the minister called for collaborative global action to address this challenge. India is committed to collaborate with the international community in tackling the issues posed by climate crisis.

“Impact of the climate crisis on fisheries is already being felt worldwide and it is expected to become more severe in the future. This may impact agriculture and fisheries, pose a threat to food security, and may trigger sea-level rise. It may also cause natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts; accelerate the erosion of coastal zones; quicken species extinction and cause damage to coral reefs”, Rupala said.

Abhilaksh Likhi, Secretary, Union Department of Fisheries, in his keynote address, said that three major schemes — the Blue Revolution; the Fisheries Agriculture Infrastructure Development Fund and the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna — have paved the way for the growth of infrastructure, technology and innovation in the fisheries sector. As a result, seafood exports are pegged at $8 billion and more importantly, shrimp exports are pegged at $5.4 billion.

Under the Clean India campaign, the Centre is providing financial assistance to States in coastal areas for setting up bio-toilets in fishing vessels. It is a small initiative but an important one to have bio-digester toilets that convert human wastes into gases and manure. The aim is to prevent pollution of the oceans, he said.

Takayuki Hagiwara, Food and Agriculture Organisation Representative to India, said that without aquatic food, hunger will not end. “Unless we end hunger, the SDG will remain out of reach in India. The birth of the Green and White Revolutions happened in India. Let’s witness the birth of the Blue Revolution here in Chennai.”