Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Suman Bery has underscored the importance of frontier technologies like artificial intelligence in tackling the challenges in the marine fisheries sector and said that technology is a vital growth driver. It is crucial to understand the dynamics of demand for prioritising production strategies, Bery said, adding that demand is the driving force of the economy. “Given that demand for fish is on the rise, innovative strategies to enhance productivity are required”, he said.

He was inaugurating a high-level national workshop jointly organised by Niti Aayog, ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, and Kerala Fisheries Department at CMFRI on Friday. The workshop was held to discuss relevant issues in marine fisheries, develop tailored strategies and forge partnerships between the coastal States to address the challenges and explore the prospects. 

Andhra leads

Flagging concern on the rising trend of disparity between the States, Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand said the growth of fisheries is highly imbalanced. He said it is much higher in Andhra Pradesh compared to most other maritime States. Fish production in Andhra Pradesh is 50 per cent higher than the total production of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka combined. This has to be addressed with greater attention, he said.

The growth of demand for fish doubled in the past decade ending 2022, compared to the previous decade ending 2012. Fisheries has a promising export share in agriculture and food commodities, Chand said.

Value addition

On measures to boost seafood exports, he proposed enhancing value addition and cutting-edge processing innovations in the sector. Major chunks of India’s unprocessed seafood including shrimps and tunas are exported mainly to Vietnam, Thailand and Tunisia for onward re-export from there after substantial value addition. By setting up of state-of-the-art processing facilities, India can harness the unexplored value-addition potential of seafood for earning greater foreign exchange”, he said. He suggested a slew of measures including partnerships between fishermen and the industry, investment and marketing.

JK Jena, Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), pitched for exploring untapped potential of oceanic and deep-sea resources. Citing the estimated harvestable potential of 2.1 million tonnes of oceanic and deep-sea resources, he said this would offer a potential new frontier for commercial fisheries.

The workshop provided a platform for experience sharing between marine States, enabling open dialogue on the challenges faced and potential solutions. Discussions on critical aspects of certification and sustainability, market linkages, value addition and seafood export, and the challenges in the fishing and seafood industry were held.