Utilisation of Catches
Nearly 70% of the fish catch is marketed fresh. The fish drying and curing industry in India is on the decline, with only about 14% fish being used for curing. Frozen fish production accounts for 6.5%, 8.4% goes for reduction to fish meal, 0.8% for offal reduction and 1.6% for miscellaneous purposes. The fish canning industry has also declined recently, in part due to the high cost of metal cans. Only 0.3% of the total catch is used for canning purposes.
Fisheries research in India is coordinated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Universities, and institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture.
India’s future fisheries development plans are aimed at increasing fish production, improving the welfare of fishers, promoting exports and providing food security. The per capita availability and consumption of fish is to be increased to a level of 11 kg per annum for the fish eating population and production has to be increased proportionately. Aquaculture is recognized as an important way to meet future demands. A number of schemes have been instituted by state and central sectors to increase brackish-water aquaculture and fish production from tanks and ponds, lakes, reservoirs and rivers. The private sector has emerged as a major player in brackish-water aquaculture, particularly in shrimp farming.
Economic role of the fishing industry
Seafood export is now recognized as a major avenue for export earnings. In order to meet EU regulations, massive centrally sponsored schemes have been initiated to provide infrastructure at fishing harbours and landing centres to improve fresh fish handling and provide sanitation and other assistance for quality processing of fisheries produce. India exports today marine products worth Rs 5124.6 Cr, covering 60 commodities. The share of marine products in
total export earnings is around 3.4%. The share of Frozen shrimp in the export earnings is very high and contributes about 65 –70 % of the total export earnings. Establishments connected with marine products export (as registered with MPEDA, 1996), include 625 exporters (380 manufacturer-exporters and 240 merchant-exporters), 376 freezing plants, 13 canning plants, 4 in the agar-agar industry, 149 ice plants, 15 fish meal plants, 903 shrimp peeling plants, 451 cold storage units, and 3 chitosan/chitin plants, with 95% of the seafood processing units concentrated in 20major clusters in 9 states. The total installed freezing capacity is 7 500 tons per day, and the commercial production is mostly export oriented.
India’s marine fisheries production has reached a plateau and, at best, only marginal increase is predicted in the near future. Most major stocks are fully exploited and further increase has to come from exploitation of deep-sea resources. However, inland production has shown rapid growth, recording an annual growth rate of 6%. Aquaculture is the principal factor in this development. All future additional demand for fish will have to be met from aquaculture. Objectives for future fisheries development include enhancing fish production, generating employment, improving socio-economic conditions of fishers, increasing marine products for export, and increasing per capita availability of fish to about 11 kg / yr. These objectives will be achieved through an integrated approach to marine and inland fisheries and aquaculture, taking into account the need for
responsible and sustainable fisheries. Conservation of aquatic resources and genetic bio-diversity is another thrust area for the next millennium.
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