The 'fisheries and aquaculture sector
' is recognized as the sunshine sector in Indian agriculture. It stimulates growth of number of subsidiary industries and is the source of livelihood for a large section of economically backward population, especially fishermen, of the country. It helps in increasing food supply, generating adequate employment opportunities and raising nutritional level. It has a huge export potential and is a big source of foreign exchange earnings for the country.
The 'Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries' is the main authority for development of fisheries' industry in India. It has been undertaking, directly and through the State Governments and the administrations of the Union Territories, various production, input supply and infrastructure development programmes and welfare-oriented schemes; besides formulating and initiating appropriate policies to increase production and productivity in the fishery sector. Further, the 'Ministry of Food Processing Industries' is another main agency responsible for sound growth of fish processing segment in India.
However, fishery is basically a State subject and the primary responsibility for its development mainly rests with the State Governments. The major thrust in fisheries development has been focused on optimising production and productivity; augmenting export of fishery products; generating employment and improving welfare of fishermen and their socio-economic status.
Over the years, fisheries' industry is emerging and rapidly growing. This covers both capture and culture including inland and sea, aquaculture, gears, navigation, oceanography, aquarium management, breeding, processing, export and import of seafood, special products and by-products, research and related activities. There exists several investment opportunities in the sector for the entrepreneurs world over.
But, there are several challenges and issues facing the fisheries development in the country, such as, accurate data on assessment of fishery resources and their potential in terms of fish production; development of sustainable technologies for fin and shell fish culture; yield optimisation; harvest and post-harvest operations; landing and berthing facilities for fishing vessels and welfare of fishermen; etc.
Thus, there is greater need to transform the sector by taking into account its achievements and capabilities. The strong and sustaining ecological resource base, rational and pre-emptive policy, public and private investments, good governance, etc holds the key for sustainable growth of the sector. The fuller utilisation of its potential can be achieved through infrastructure, investments, technology intensification, diversification and value addition. In a nutshell, various issues related to fishing activities in India need to be addressed in a time bound manner with mutual understanding and cooperation between public and private sectors.