World Fisheries Day

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    • World Fisheries Day Observed on the 21st November every year.

    About World Fisheries Day

    • Purpose: To highlight the importance of sustainable stocks of fisheries in the world. 
      • It also focuses on other related factors such as the necessity of healthy oceans, balance in ecosystem and surroundings. 
    • It was started in the year 1997 when “World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers” met at New Delhi leading to formation of “World Fisheries Forum” with representatives from 18 countries and signed a declaration advocating for a global mandate of sustainable fishing practices and policies.
    • Each year, it is celebrated with a unique theme that focuses on the overall development of the fishing industry, environment, and biodiversity. 
    • Theme:
      • 2021: The day is awaiting a creative theme that incorporates the fishing industry, nature and the environment, as well as a greater emphasis on biodiversity. 
      • The theme for 2020 was ‘Social Responsibility in the Fishing Value Chain.’
    • Awards Ceremony:
      • The award ceremony was organised by the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, in Bhubaneswar on the occasion of WFD.
      • Balasore district (Odisha) has been awarded India’s “Best Marine District”.

    Significance of World Fisheries Day 

    • Critical Reminder:
      • It is no surprise that fish forms an important part of people’s diet across different parts of the world. 
      • Also, thus, this day serves as a critical reminder that we must take necessary steps to manage global fisheries for sustainable stocks. 
    • Cultural aspects: 
      • Several societies and communities are associated with the occupation of fishing for several years. 
    • Better development: 
      • It will provide a strong hope to develop the fishing industry in a better manner in the country.
    • Raising Awareness: 
      • Such events and celebrations help in spreading more awareness about the same theme and help in making people motivated to work on its promotion.

    Importance of Fisheries Sector in India

    • Contribution in Economy: 
      • The fisheries sector continued to register an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. 
      • Owing to its massive coastline of over 8,000 km and a vast network of rivers, fisheries have always played a significant role in India’s economy. 
    • Global Share & Exports:
      • In 2019-20, with an overall production of 142 lakh tons, India produced 8% of the global share. 
      • During the same time period, India’s fisheries exports stood at Rs 46,662 crore, constituting about 18% of India’s agricultural exports.
    • Livelihood: 
      • Fisheries provide employment and income for millions, especially the rural populations. 
      • Currently, this sector provides livelihood to more than 2.8 crore people within the country. 
    • Important Nutrients:
      • Fisheries and aquaculture remain an important source of food and  nutrition. 
      • Fish being an affordable and rich source of animal protein, is one of the healthiest options to mitigate hunger and nutrient deficiency. 

    Challenges to Fisheries Sector

    • Poor Infrastructure: 
      • Storage, inventory, transportation mechanisms are all at loss compared to the ones needed for giving this sector a proper boost.
    • Environmental Issues:
      • There remains issues of over-exploitation, adverse impacts of worsening climate change, frequent events of oil spills, discharge of effluents, hazardous chemicals etc.
    • Reduced Tariffs:
      • Tariffs on fish and fishery products have been reduced significantly more than those for agricultural products as a result of multilateral agreements.
    • Untapped potential:
      • The Economic Survey of India, 2019-20 estimated that, only 58% of the country’s inland potential has been tapped so far.
    • Limited Species:
      • Limited number of species grown / cultured, mainly due to weak linkages between research and development and fish farmers community.
    • Food borne diseases: 
      • There has been an overall increase in food-borne diseases throughout the world and consumer pressure has forced many governments to impose stricter quality assurance requirements on the food supply. 
      • Although fish products are not identified as a major vector, the processing industry has had to respond to the challenge.
    • Economic loss: 
      • FAO estimates that up to 20 mt of fish is wasted by being discarded at sea immediately after catch. 
      • In addition to the economic loss the issue of conservation is attracting increased attention.

    Government Efforts 

    • Separate ministry: 
      • The Prime Minister has envisaged a separate ministry for the fisheries sector. The potential of the sector has been realized and since then in a short span of time.
    • Export Target: 
      • India has set the ambitious target of achieving one lakh crore income from the sector. The Government of India is providing all necessary support to achieve the one lakh crore export target from the sector by 2024-25.
    • Blue Revolution Scheme: 
      • The recently concluded Blue Revolution Scheme launched in 2015-16 with Rs 3000 crore outlay, for over five years, made vital contributions towards the sector’s development. 
    • Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund: 
      • To address the critical gaps in fisheries infrastructure, the government created the Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund in 2018-19 with an outlay of Rs. 7,522 crore.
    • Three Major Transformations:
      • The growth of inland aquaculture, specifically freshwater aquaculture.
      • The mechanization of capture fisheries.
      • The successful commencement of brackish water shrimp aquaculture.
    • Additional Impetus to Matsya Sampada Yojana:
      • The Government is implementing Matsya Sampada Yojana and has infused Rs 20,000 crore in the sector through the scheme. 

    Image Courtesy: DoF 

    • Five Major Fishing Harbours: 
      • The development of five major fishing harbours (Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, Petuaghat) as hubs of economic activity. 
      • It envisages development of world class infrastructure and amenities including measures required for reducing post-harvest losses. 
      • Further, export potential from these modernised harbours is expected to rise by 10% to 15%, creating around 50,000 direct and indirect jobs.
    • Development of Inland Fishing Harbours & Fish Landing Centres:
      • This is the first ever government support for such an activity. 
      • This will benefit lakhs of traditional inland fishermen dependent on fishing in Ganga and Brahmaputra for their livelihood. 
      • The development will be one of the steps to realise the call to transform ‘Namami’ Ganga to ‘Arth’ Ganga.
    • Seaweed Park:
      • Establishment of a unique multipurpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu. 
      • The proposed park would be the center of production for quality seaweed-based products, developed on a hub and spoke model. 
      • This project is expected to provide enormous scope for engaging women from villages and increasing their income.
    • National Fisheries Policy, 2020:
      • To develop an ecologically healthy, economically viable and socially inclusive fisheries sector that contributes towards economic prosperity and wellbeing of fishers and fish farmers, and provides food and nutritional security to the country in a sustainable and responsible manner.
    • Other Initiatives:
      • Seaweed farming is another part where the government is putting more emphasis on. 
      • Government is also focusing on empowering fisherwomen and promoting entrepreneurship in the sector.
    • Focus on SDGs:
      • In keeping with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), effective governance of ‘Blue Economy’ would mean striking a balance between effectively utilizing fisheries to meet consumer demands and sustain livelihoods of fishing communities on one hand and preserving the ecosystem on the other. 

    Way Ahead

    • States need to be inspired by each other and explore options to grow in the marine sector. 
    • There is a need to come up with environment friendly fishing and also look for sustaining the sector while continuing the consumption.
    • The Government of India has already extended the support of KCC to the fishermen and women. 
    • The Government needs to start a massive campaign to raise greater awareness about the fisheries sector.

    Source: PIB