Fish as a source should be seen as nutrient and not necessarily as food because of high levels of micro and macro vitamins found in several species

A four-day global symposium organised by the city-based Asian Fisheries Society Indian Branch began here on Monday with the hope of recommending measures to mitigate hunger and malnutrition that have affected over 80 crore people across the world — more so in the developing countries.

Pointing out that fish continued to be the cheapest source of protein, speakers at the inauguration of the symposium on “Aquatic Resources for Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition” called for improved and sustainable aquaculture with greater research in the field and development of infrastructure that would reduce malnutrition and hunger.

Director-General of Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) A.E. Eknath, an alumnus of College of Fisheries here, called for a change in focus.

He suggested that fish as a source should be seen as nutrient and not necessarily as food because of high levels of micro and macro vitamins found in several species. Of the 160 million tonnes of fish produced, 120 million tonnes were being used as a source of food world over, he said.

Mr. Eknath said the image of aquaculture had been hit as it was targeted for ill-effects on biodiversity, use of chemicals and processes. However, there was an increased adherence now to Food and Agriculture Organisation standards. About 22 per cent of the malnourished children in the world were in India, said Vice-Chancellor of Bidar-based Karnataka Veterinary and Fisheries Sciences University C. Renuka Prasad. He said that 40 per cent of the over 800 million malnourished people lived in India and China.

Lack of knowledge

M.V. Gupta of Hyderabad, a World Food Prize Laureate, regretted that there was poor knowledge among experts and laymen about the nutritional value of fish. When the requirement of fish was expected to touch 23 million tonnes a year by 2020 as against the present 8 million tonnes in India, thrust on aquaculture was inevitable. Marine and inland fisheries were overexploited already.

Karnataka’s Principal Secretary for Fisheries Aravind Jannu called for an international protocol to prevent the use of heavy-duty trawlers so that marine fisheries could be sustainable. When the government attempted regulation of engine power of boats, fishermen pointed out that foreign vessels with greater power – over 2000 HP – were engaged in fishing.

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