08 January 2024, New Delhi: The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi hosted a high-level national workshop on ‘Harnessing the Potential of Fisheries in Marine States’ on 5th January 2024. The workshop was ogranised by the NITI Aayog, in association with ICAR-CMFRI and the Department of Fisheries, Government of Kerala.Shri Suman Bery, Hon’ble Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog inaugurated the workshop. He underscored the importance of frontier technologies like artificial intelligence in tackling the challenges in the marine fisheries sector. He stressed the importance of understanding the dynamics of demand for prioritising production strategies.
The workshop was organised to discuss relevant issues in the sector and evolve strategies for optimal utilisation of the highly prospective marine resources.Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Ramesh Chand, Hon’ble Member of NITI Aayog 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, he said. On measures to boost seafood export, Prof. Ramesh Chand proposed enhancing value addition and cutting-edge processing innovations in the sector.Dr J K 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 oceanic and deep-sea resources, he said that deep sea fishing would offer a potential new frontier for commercial fisheries. Dr Jena emphasised the importance of ensuring quality and enhancing the skilled capacity to utilise the prospects of deep-sea fishing.
ICAR-CMFRI proposes policy suggestions for sustainable marine fisheries management
During the technical session on Certification and Sustainability in the Marine Sector, ICAR-CMFRI proposed a set of comprehensive policy suggestions, including the introduction of central legislation (Marine Fishery Act). The proposed Act is necessary for the regulation of fishing in areas beyond territorial waters to address policy and legislative vacuum, providing a much needed frame-work for sustainable practices. The proposals were presented by Dr A Gopalakrishnan, Direcotor, ICAR-CMFRI.Institutionalisation of regular stock assessments of marine fishery resources was another major recommendation. The government has to institutionalise a regular mechanism for the stock assessment of these resources, as resource health status is going to be crucial in WTO subsidy negotiations and other national and international discourse, Dr Gopalakrishnan said.Referring to the recent debate on certification of Indian marine fisheries, CMFRI suggested a national guideline on the eco-labeling of marine fishery resources. “Private investments must be made competitive and subject to regulations to safeguard the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and entrepreneurs in the post-harvest sector”, ICAR-CMFRI Director said.
Some of the major proposals are as follow:
Streamlining of open sea mariculture, emphasising the need for sustainability and equity to receive adequate focus in determining different ownership and operatorship formats for scaling-up mariculture activities;
Implementation of AI-mediated automated mechanisms for landing estimation, tracking of fishing vessels through Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS), and analytics of sub-stock-level information;
Focused research and exploration projects are required to assess and characterise deep-sea and non-conventional fishery resources;
Establishing an institutional mechanism for overseeing deep-sea fishing was also recommended, with a clear emphasis on economic viability and adherence to national and state-specific policy guidelines;
Estimating the potential and exploring the possibility of utilising mesopelagic resources as source for fish meal;
Strengthening of accident insurance, fishing vessel insurance, and coastal immovable asset insurance is required through technological and policy interventions;
Greater attention needs to be given to island ecosystems and planned expansion of the fishery and value chain development, along with management of the live bait fishery of Lakshadweep; and
Ongoing artificial reef installation programmes in coastal waters should be intensified with mechanisms for continuous impact assessment monitoring and improvisation.
Dr J K Jena, Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) who moderated the discussion, said India needs to achieve sustainable production from coastal waters and enhanced production from offshore waters. “One of the approaches to intensify capture fish production is the exploitation of oceanic and deep-sear resources, which are yet to be tapped fully”, he added.The proposals were presented in the presence of NITI Aayog member Prof. Ramesh Chand and a diverse array of key stakeholders, including policymakers from the Central and state governments, leading industry experts and researchers.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.Rrepresentatives from the governments of Kerala, Odisha, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu attended. A diverse array of key stakeholders, including policy makers from the Central and state governments, leading industry experts and researchers attended the workshop that served as 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 also held at the workshop.
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