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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

India's Fishing Sector is in Trouble..

Seafood exports from India are passing through a tough phase due to dwindling catch from capture fisheries and tougher quality inspection in importing countries. 

India is the second largest fish producer in the world after China and accounts for nearly 6 % of global fish production. According to an article in the Financial Express, the sector supports 4 million fishermen.

However, Greenpeace said in 2015 that fishing supports the livelihood of over 15 million people

Marine prod
ucts are India’s single largest export, amounting to over RS 45,000 crore in 2017-18

Higher sea surface temperature, lack of food in the sea near the coast and over-exploitation of the sardine population is said to be the reason for the decline in sardine landing, sources added.

Warmer water is less ideal for the growth of phytoplankton, the basis for the marine food chain. A decrease in the amount of phytoplankton can ripple through the entire food chain, so fish stocks are moving elsewhere in search of food. In addition, warmer water contains less dissolved oxygen. And as oceans absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the water becomes more acidic.

Scientists have found that warming waters have driven sardine further north and mackerel from the surface to the sub-surface, while breams have shifted their breeding to the
cooler months. Depleted fish stocks also cause local fishermen to travel further in search of fish.

Studies have said the fishing pressure on the stock in near shore waters has gone up considerably and signs of over exploitation of species is becoming increasingly evident. Further increase
in effort in the coastal sector would be detrimental to sustainable yield. Around 90 per cent of India’s fish resources are at or above maximum sustainable levels of exploitation, Greenpeace said in 2015.

Greenpeace's report said that the overexploitation is an outcome of destructive fishing techniques and overfishing resulting from bottom trawling and government subsidies for mechanised fishing.

Severe storms like Ockhi (in Nov 2017) are predicted to hit the region more frequently in the years to come. Human-ca
used warming linked to greenhouse gases is the likely culprit. These storms are sustained by energy from warm ocean water. And the Arabian Sea is warming. In fact, it’s warming 0.5 degrees Celsius every decade, faster than the global average rate of 0.11 degrees Celsius.

Studies say it is essential to develop value added products for Indian domestic and export markets.

The FAO reports that 35 per cent of global catches are wasted. About a quarter of these losses are by-catch or discards, mostly from trawlers. But most are due to a lack of knowledge or equipment, such as refrigeration or ice-makers, needed to keep fish fresh.

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