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Blue Economy on the West Coast of India

Blue Economy on the West Coast of India

The blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem, according to the World Bank. In this article, we focus on fishing as a part of the blue economy. The geographical area selected is the western coast of India to explore maritime economic activities and employment. 

Overview of India’s Fisheries Sector

India is the second-largest fish-producing country in the world accounting for 7.56 percent of global production. The Nation is blessed with a long coastline of 8,118 km, and 2.02 million sq. km of EEZ for the marine fishing industry. It contributes about 1.24% to the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA) and over 7.28% to the agricultural GVA. The fisheries sector has demonstrated outstanding growth ranging from the production of 86.66 lakhs tonnes to a record fish production of 145 lakh tons in FY 2020-21.

In terms of employment, the sector supports the livelihood of over 28 million people in India, especially marginalized and vulnerable communities. During 2019-20, export earnings from the fisheries sector were Rs. 46,662.85 crores. Figure 1 shows specifically the production and export value of fisheries from marine and inland production as a total in respective years. 

Figure 1: Production & Export of Fish.
Source: Economic Survey 2020-21,Government of India.

More than 50 different types of fish and shellfish products are being exported to 75 countries around the world. Fish and fish products have recently emerged as the largest group in agricultural exports from India. Prawns, cobia, bombay duck, tuna, seer fish, mackerels, anchovies, sardines are some of the marine fish which are highly exported. For further detailed information on species and types of fish in India, you can visit Fish and Fisheries of India.

Figure 2: Marine Fish Production, 2019-20. Source: Handbook on fishery 2020

Fishing & Maritime Economic Activities on West Coast

In this article, we plan to get a bird’s eye view of the fishing industry, keeping in view the Western coastline of the Peninsular Nation. It spreads from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala with a length of 1400 km.

Gujarat- Taking a glance over the production of marine fishes, the state of Gujarat alone bags up to 1214.7 km of the coastline. It is at the top position in fisheries as it covers 1/5th part of India along the coast as well as being an exclusive economic zone. It contributes about 20 percent of the total marine production, ranging up to 6.20 lakh tonnes of marine products in 2020-21 valuing up to Rs. 6328.7 crores. Marine fish production contributes about 83.03% of the total fish production of the state.

Maharashtra- It has a coastline of 720 km with 173 fish landing centres. The area suitable for marine fishing is 1.12 lakh sq. km, with a production of approx. 4 lakh tonnes. During 2019-20, there were 16,089 marine fishing boats in operation, of which 12,948 were mechanised.

Karnataka- It contributes approximately 4 lakh tonnes of marine fish production in the year 2019-20, but has a very limited coastline of 320 km.

Goa- The state comprises 160 km of the total coastline area contributing about 1.01 lakh tonnes of marine fish production in the year 2019-20. The Gross Value-Added (GVA) by the fisheries sector to the state economy stood at Rs. 1,51,136 lakh constituting 2.32% of the total GVA & 35.86% of agriculture & allied sectors at current prices for the year 2018-19.

Kerala- The fisheries sector in Kerala plays a significant role in ensuring food security and nutrition, income generation, and promoting sustainable economic growth. Kerala’s coast runs around 580 km in length. In Kerala, the share of the fisheries sector in the total GSVA (at constant prices) in 2020-21 constitutes 0.82% and accounts for 0.72% of GSDP. Fisheries and Aquaculture contribute 8.71% of the Gross State Value Added (GSVA) at constant prices 2020- 21 from the agriculture and allied sectors.

With agriculture, the fisheries sector in India has been recognized as a ‘Sunrise Sector’ and has demonstrated an outstanding double-digit average annual growth of 10.87% since 2014-15.

Fish and fish products have a crucial role in nutrition and food security, as they represent a valuable source of nutrients and micronutrients of fundamental importance for diversified and healthy diets. The rapid growth of aquaculture should be enhanced to provide additional employment and to improve the standard of living of the farmers.The state can focus both on domestic marketing and exports of ornamental fish and other fish products. But all this needs the setting up of an adequate and apt infrastructure….

Government Scheme

Several initiatives of the Central Government, such as the Blue Revolution and Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), have sought to tap the potential of the blue economy.  The PMMSY is designed to address critical gaps in fish production & productivity, quality, technology, post-harvest infrastructure & management, modernization & strengthening of the value chain, and establishing a robust fisheries management and fishers’ welfare.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada has been approved at a total estimated investment of Rs. 20,050 crores to be implemented over 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25. Under the scheme, training and funding both are provided. The detailed operational structure and guidelines of the scheme can be found here.

There is a right mix of technology and human resources in this scheme such as mariculture. It is a specialised branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, or in tanks, ponds, or raceways filled with seawater. Non-food products produced by mariculture include fish meal, nutrient agar, jewellery (e.g. cultured pearls), and cosmetics. Fish raised through mariculture practices are perceived to be of higher quality than fish raised in ponds or tanks and offer a more diverse choice of species.            

On the West Coast, the numbers of beneficiaries of this scheme are as follow:

Under the scheme, the proposals for financial assistance for various works mentioned in the scheme should be sent to the Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF). State governments/union territories; state-owned corporations/state government undertaking/ government sponsored/ supported organisations; fisheries cooperative federations (including FISHCOPPED etc.); cooperatives, collective groups of fish farmers & fish produce groups, etc.; Panchayat Raj institutions/ self help groups (SHGs)/ NGOs; SCs/STs/marginal farmers, women & entrepreneurs, self help groups and cooperatives of these, etc.; private companies/ entrepreneurs; physically disabled; any other institution/ entity to be decided by the government can apply for the scheme.

Following is the graph of Proposals sanctioned by the FIDF, Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, & Dairying, Government of India in crores under PMMSY of respective states.

Figure 3: Proposals of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana in 2020-21 and 2121-22.
Source: https://pmmsy.dof.gov.in/pmdb/

The proposals sanctioned would lead to improving the expansion of the blue economy on the west coast.

In the state of Kerala, a major achievement was the completion of the construction of long-pending infrastructure projects, such as fishing harbours at Muthalapozhi, Chellanam, and Chetuva, Tanur, Thalai, Vellayil, Koyilandy, and Manjeswaram. A total of 1,600 coastal roads were constructed between 2017 and 2021, spending Rs. 704.1 crores. More than 65 fish markets were constructed for Rs. 193.5 crores. About 200 fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) vessels were provided to fish workers as part of the Blue Revolution scheme. Biofloc farming and recirculatory aquaculture systems (RAS) were implemented under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). During the period, 235 RAS were implemented and cage farming was undertaken in 4 reservoirs (Banasarasagar, Karapuzha, Peruvannamuzhi, and Kakki).

For further Infrastructural development proposals worth Rs. 321 Cr. have been sanctioned for the state of Gujarat in FY 2021-22. Similarly for the state of Goa and Karnataka proposals worth Rs.43 Cr and Rs. 230 Cr. respectively are sanctioned in FY 2021-22. 

Cage culture farming is being implemented under PMMSY to increase fish production in Maharashtra. A cage is an enclosure, which can be of any shape or size wherein the culture of biotic organisms, such as finfish and shellfish is being practised in captivity with a stipulated objective. The fish cultured in cages are high-value fish; hence there is huge export demand for cage cultured fish. In all 21,878 cages have been sanctioned for inland fishing in 97 water reservoirs in the State. Of which, 1,921 cages have been erected and 3,842 MT of fish is expected to be produced.

Fishing on the west coast is contributing largely to expanding and improving the blue economy of India. Recognizing the significance of the fisheries sector, the government has taken several initiatives over the years to unlock its full potential. For fishers and fish farmers, the working capital includes the cost of fuel, ice, labour charges, mooring/landing charges, etc. Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs) have been issued to fishers and fish farmers for easy availability of credit from formal sources. 

However, responsible fishing practices can be adopted for the conservation and utilisation of both inland and marine fisheries. Emphasis is laid on addressing critical gaps in the value chain through technology infusion, optimal water management to achieve ‘more crop per drop’, improved quality and hygiene of fish and fish products, insurance, value addition, demand-based branding, and marketing and promotion of initiatives bringing economic returns for stakeholders. Additionally, priority is given to sustainability and traceability from ‘catch to consumer’ for augmenting fisheries exports and maintaining competitiveness in the global markets would improve the blue economy on the west coast of India.

*The views/opinions expressed in the above article exclusively belong to the writer. Tatvita may have different opinions on the subject.*

Aayush Patil

Aayush Patil is a Research Intern at Tatvita. Presently he is pursuing his bachelors in the Liberal Arts department at the Savitribai Phule Pune University.    

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