Fisheries and Aquaculture

Aquaculture is the controlled rearing, breeding, and harvesting of aquatic species in various aquatic habitats. It serves multiple purposes such as food production, population restoration, wild stock improvement, aquarium construction, fish cultures, and habitat restoration.

Fishery is an activity that involves the harvesting of fish within the confines of a specific area. The fisheries concept essentially collects evidence of human fishing activities from economic, management, biological/environmental, and technological perspectives.

Type of Aquaculture

There are different types of aquaculture depending on hydrobiological features, the motive of farming, and special operational techniques.

  • Mariculture is seawater-based aquaculture done in oceanic areas, sections of the ocean, or separate ponds with seawater. It involves the cultivation of molluscs, prawns, shellfish, and seaweed.
  • Fish farming is the prevalent form of aquaculture, involving the selective breeding of fish in freshwater or seawater for human consumption. It is popular due to its cost-effective provision of protein.
  • Algaculture is an aquaculture method focused on cultivating algae.
  • Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) is an advanced system that combines multiple trophic levels to optimize resource utilization and mimic natural ecosystems. It enhances efficiency by utilizing waste from larger species as food for smaller ones, resulting in reduced waste and increased product yield through nutrient recycling.
  •  Inland artificial ponds for aquaculture are typically around 20 acres in size and 6-8 feet deep. Aeration systems are commonly used to introduce air, improve oxygen flow and prevent ice formation in the ponds during winter.
  • Recirculating Systems in aquaculture use closed chambers for fish housing and water treatment. Continuous water pumping and power are essential. The treatment chamber filters particles, adds air, and regulates salinity, temperature, and oxygen levels for fish safety. This eco-friendly approach minimizes water usage and responsibly disposes of filter residue.
  • Offshore and freshwater Open-net pen and Cage systems are commonly used for fish farming. Mesh cages of varying sizes, ranging from 6 to 60 cubic feet, are submerged in the water to house the fish. However, the high fish density in these pens can lead to the transfer of waste, chemicals, parasites, and diseases to the surrounding water habitats.
  • Flow-through/raceway system consists of long units filled with fish, with feeding stations attached. Water is diverted from flowing water and fed into downstream raceway units. Waste is collected and disposed of at the end of the units. Raceways are often utilized for trout culture.

Types of Fisheries

  • Capital-intensive fisheries employ large mechanized vessels equipped with advanced fish detection and navigational technology. These fisheries have high production capacity and achieve significant catch per unit effort.
  • Small-scale fisheries are labour-intensive, with small boats and minimal capital and equipment per person on board. Most businesses are run by families. Typically, fuel usage is modest and it is often associated with artisanal fishing.
  • Traditional or Artisanal Fisheries: Traditional fisheries involve fishing households using small vessels for local use, often with limited cash. Artisanal fisheries can be subsistence or commercial, serving local or export markets.
  • Recreational Fishing is for recreation or pleasure rather than for profit. It can be done in saltwater or freshwater, with various methods such as line fishing or fly fishing.
  • Commercial Fisheries are undertaken for profit to sell the harvest on the market, whether through auction rooms, direct contracts, or other means of commerce.
  • Subsistence Fisheries primarily for local community needs, using small-scale operations and targeting local fish stocks. It focuses on immediate sustenance rather than commercial trade or export.

India’s Potential

  • In India, the fisheries sector is acknowledged as a high-potential sector due to its impact on the country’s socioeconomic growth. Fish is an affordable and nutritious protein-rich diet.
  • India’s vast coastal area offers substantial fisheries potential in marine and inland waters. With 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks, 7,500 km of coastline, and 1.1 million hectares of brackish water, India ranks second globally in the aquaculture industry. The fisheries sector supports the livelihoods of 28 million people.
  • India is the world’s third largest fish-producing country, accounting for 8% of global output and providing over 1.1% of the country’s GVA and about 6.72% of agricultural GVA, as well as the fourth largest exporter of fish and fishery goods. The aquaculture business in India has grown at an average annual rate of 8%, fueled by rising local and international demand.
  •  In fiscal year 2021-22, India had the greatest export of 1.36 MMT worth $ 7.76 Bn The market is estimated to increase at a CAGR of 10.5% between 2023 and 2028, reaching over INR 2,243 billion by 2026.
  • India’s aquaculture industry focuses on fish and prawn production. Over the past five years, prawn production has grown steadily at a 10% annual rate, projected to reach 700,000 metric tonnes in 2022, according to MPEDA. Similarly, fish production has seen an 8% annual growth rate, with an estimated total production of 1,200 metric tonnes in 2022.



Production Challenges

  • Slow adoption of new techniques and technologies: The fisheries sector needs to embrace innovative hatchery technologies, water-efficient aquaculture practices like RAS, sustainable marine production techniques such as mariculture, and advanced monitoring systems. However, the adoption of these cutting-edge practices and technologies remains limited at the production level.
  • Limited extension services: The aquaculture and fisheries sector lacks sufficient extension services, limiting access to vital information and support for farmers and fishermen. There is a shortage of soil and water testing facilities, consultancies, and real-time market information. Inadequate investment in extension services has resulted in underserved areas and a lack of standardized prices for aqua products across states.
  • Inadequate quality inputs and credit: Limited access to high-quality inputs affects yield and economic outcomes. The fishing community faces financial constraints and struggles to access credit for vessel upgrades and technology adoption.

Economic and Infrastructure Challenges

  • Inadequate price discovery mechanism: In India, the fish trade lacks an efficient electronic trading platform, relying on traditional methods. Open auctions at landing zones and wholesale markets lack proper weighing and inspection processes. As a result, boat owners, fishermen, and small aqua farmers receive non-remunerative prices for their high-quality products.
  • Post-harvest Losses: Fish is a highly perishable commodity, and putrefaction begins as soon as it is harvested. Wastage of fisheries products is particularly significant in India, and it increases during the monsoon season.
  • Inadequate cold chain facilities: The fish industry uses just a small portion of the available storage capacity. Delivery of fresh fish to distant states lacks sufficient cold chain infrastructure, affecting product quality during long-distance voyages.
  • Concerns about the quality of fish products: Outdated catching and harvesting methods, wrong killing processes, and improper post-harvest handling all contribute to fish product deterioration and unpalatability. The presence of pathogenic bacteria and residual antibiotics also has an impact on fish and prawn export, leading to import rejections in countries such as the United States.

Measures Taken by the Government

  • The Blue Revolution 2.0 encompasses various fisheries activities, including inland fisheries, aquaculture, marine fisheries, mariculture, and more, overseen by the National Fisheries Development Board.
  • PMMSY aims to enhance inland fisheries and aquaculture by improving output, productivity, quality, technology, infrastructure, value chain, and traceability. It includes activities such as developing aquaculture infrastructure, fish processing plants, seed production, ranching, landing centres, fishing ports, seaweed parks, cold storage, fish tourism, and financial and insurance products. The goal is to increase fish production, aquaculture productivity, exports, job opportunities, and income for fishers and fish processors.
  • National Genetic Improvement Facility for shrimp breeding has been established under the PMMSY scheme. To reduce reliance on a single species and to favour indigenous species over invasive prawn species, under the Make in India flagship programme, ICAR-CIBA has made genetic enhancement of the Indian white shrimp, a national priority.
  • The Government implemented National Surveillance Programme for Aquatic Animal Diseases (NSPAAD) to enhance farmer-based disease surveillance in aquaculture. It aims to ensure timely reporting, investigation, and scientific support for managing aquatic animal diseases.
  • The ‘Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) has been established with a total fund size of Rs.7,522.48 crore for providing concessional finance for the creation and strengthening of fisheries infrastructure facilities, including inland fisheries and aquaculture.
  • The National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) formed in 2006, aims to increase fish production and coordinate fishery development in an integrated manner under the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Kisan Credit Card (KCC) facility was extended to fishermen and fish farmers to assist them in meeting their working capital needs for fisheries and aquaculture.
  • New areas such as saline and brackish waters, reservoirs, and floodplains are being utilized for productive aquaculture. The focus is on converting wastelands into productive lands.
  • The government launched the e-Gopala app in 2020, to assist farmers involved in agriculture and aquaculture. By removing middlemen from the process, the app keeps farmers up to date on many elements of their produce.
  • “SagarParikrama” is a Government initiative that focuses on resolving challenges faced by fishermen and promoting their economic upliftment through various fisheries policies and programmes like PMMSY and KCC.

Way Ahead( Neelkranti to Arthkranti)

  • FAO reports that 90% of global fish reserves have been depleted, with limited chances of recovery. However, in India only 40% of available freshwater bodies are utilized for aquaculture and brackish water resources are utilized at 15% of their potential. India’s extensive coastline can help the economy accomplish the Blue Revolution’s goals.
  • India’s aquaculture industry is rapidly advancing, supported by the government and innovative startups. The goal is to make India a leading fish production hub through legislation, marketing, and infrastructure development, creating an attractive investment opportunity. With technological advancements and government initiatives, aquaculture has the potential to rival agriculture in popularity and profitability.
  • The fisheries industry plays a crucial role in income, employment, subsidiary sectors, health, and nutrition. It provides balanced protein intake, addresses hunger and nutrient shortages, and contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The government has implemented a comprehensive strategy for achieving ‘Fish for Health and Fish for Wealth’ (Neelkranti to Arthkranti).


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