Fisheries in India

Fisheries in India

This article deals with ‘Fisheries in India .’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Fisheries in India

Scope & Significance

Scope of Fisheries
Fisherman in India

Indian Fisheries sector classification

  • Deep-sea fishing
  • Inland (Freshwater)
  • Coastal fishing 
  • Aquaculture: Growing Marine organisms in a controlled environment (same as Agriculture is growing plants in a controlled environment) 

Upstream Issues

Upstream in Saltwater(Sea) Fisheries 

1. Tropical Quality Fishes

  • Indian fishes are of Tropical Quality and hence have a bitter taste (temperate fishes are sweeter). Therefore, the demand for Indian fish in the international market is less. 

2. Juvenile Fishes

  • Fishermen use fine-sized nets (although banned by the government), and as a result, even juvenile fish are caught. These fishes aren’t of use & dumped in the sea itself but resource lost.

3. Fishing during the breeding season

  • The government has banned fishing during the breeding season, but coastal authorities don’t enforce them strictly. It impacts breeding & leads to the lowering of population.  

4. Pakistani fisherman

  • Due to a lack of surveillance, even Pakistani fishermen carry operations in the Indian EEZ.

5. Primitive vessels

  • Indian vessels don’t have freezing facilities onboard. As a result, quality deteriorates. 
  • Indian vessels don’t have special equipment to do deep water fishing beyond the depth of 400m. As a result, they can’t exploit the whole EEZ. For example, Tuna is found around the Lakshadweep islands. 

6. Overexploitation in Tamil Nadu Coast

  • There is a massive problem of overfishing on the Tamil Nadu Coast. As a result, the catch is declining & fishermen venture into Sri-Lankan EEZ. Hence, fishing on the Tamil Nadu coast has become unsustainable. 

Upstream Issues in Aquaculture

1. Regulatory issues

National Fisheries Development Board & Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries regulate the fishing sector in India. Both are doing nothing & blaming each other.


MNREGA is not properly used. It can be used to create more rainfed water bodies for the fishery.

3. Input

  • Fish feed is costly, which increases the operational cost.
  • Most fish farmers are small & don’t know best practices & post-harvest processing.

4. Other

  • Inadequate extension staff for fisheries and training for fishers and fisheries personnel. 
  • Absence of standardization and branding of fish products.

Processing Issues

Notable Players in the Fish processing include Adani Exports, Hindustan Lever, Vishal Exports, Liberty etc.

1. Water Quality

  • Indian fisheries are frequently rejected in foreign markers due to the traces of chemicals found in water used during processing.

2. Packaging

  • Need focussed research to develop low-cost packaging technology for seafood.

3. Low-value Addition

  • India merely freezes fish & shrimps and export them to China & Japan. Rest processing is done by them & re-exported at higher prices.

4. Investment needed

  • Fish processing units need massive investments to comply with EU and US regulations.

Downstream Issues

1. Indian Mentality

  • Indian consumers prefer fresh fish instead of processed fish. As a result, food processing units for fisheries have not developed in India. 

2. Marketing

  • There is inadequate awareness of the advantages of eating fish over meat in India. The industry needs intensive campaigns to make fish popular.

3. Dumping

  • The US has imposed anti-dumping duty on Indian Shrimp.

4. Rejections

  • US/EU  rejects Indian fish for traces of antibiotics, heavy metals, foul smell.

Government Schemes

1. Blue revolution

  • Under the new classification, the government has formulated an umbrella scheme, ‘Blue Revolution by merging all the existing schemes.
  • Various schemes under this include
    1. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY): PMMSY aims at infrastructure development, post-harvest management and quality control to develop the fish food processing industry. 
    2. Sagar Mitras: Sagar Mitras are extension workers who advise fishermen in processing and marketing their products.
    1. Monetary help for modernization of boats
    2. Construction of cold storage infrastructure. 
    3. National scheme for welfare of fishermen 
    4. Promote Inland fisheries, aquaculture & pisciculture 
    5. Personal insurance and boat insurance for active fishermen

2. National Policy on Marine Fishery, 2017 

The Department of Animal Husbandry adopted the National Policy on Marine Fisheries, Dairying and Fisheries in 2017 due to following reasons.

  • Marine Fisheries need a new policy given the fact that it is the fastest-growing subsector of the food processing Industry, and protein requirement is increasing in India due to a significant increase in its Middle Class. 
  • The need was felt for a new policy when B. Meenakumar Committee suggested that India create buffer zones between the coastal fisheries and deep-sea fishery.
  • India needed a new policy to attract FDI in the deep-sea fishing sector.

Main Terms of Policy

  • Better Monitoring and surveillance (to prevent accidents and trespassing) using chip-based smart registration cards.  
  • Integrated approach on fisheries management: Species-specific and area-specific management plans for sustainable utilization of resources.  
  • Traditional Rights for Fishermen, i.e. areas where mechanized fishing is prohibited, and only small scale fishers are allowed, would be continued. 
  • Commercializing Fisheries 
    • Mariculture: Government will encourage the setting up of Mariculture farms like Open Cage Fishing.
    • Island Fisheries: Government will take steps to exploit the islands for fisheries. 
  • Safety Standards: Government would focus on harmonizing FSSAI standards with international bodies  
  • Credit: With the help of NABARD, the government will provide institutional credit to the fishers. 
  • Marine Environment: Government will review and periodically evaluate existing marine protected areas (MPAs). 

3. Fund

Fisheries Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been created by the government.

4. Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA)

  • MPEDA is a statutory body established in 1972 under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to promote the export of marine products from India.
  • MPEDA’s focus is mainly on 
    1. Market Promotion
    2. Capture Fisheries
    3. Culture Fisheries
    4. Processing Infrastructure & Value addition
    5. Quality Control, Research and Development.

5. Pilot Project on Ornamental Fisheries

  • Ornamental Fishery is a sub-sector dealing with breeding and rearing coloured fish of freshwater and marine water. 
  • They are used for aesthetics like the aquarium. 

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