"Fish for All and Fish for Ever," would be the stated vision of the MSSRF-IGNOU College of Coastal Communities inaugurated here on Saturday.
A community-based initiative of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, the institute proposes to provide end-to-end training right from capture to consumption for the fishing communities.
The Fish for All-Resource and Training Centre, of the Community College, has been envisaged as training and an applied research centre, with technical competencies obtained from other organizations like the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services(INCOIS) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The Centre includes a Village Resource Centre, a training centre and a pre-processing and value addition fish processing facility. The Village Resource Centre would be connected to Village Knowledge Centers.
The Village Resource Centre of the Community College would receive Satellite-based information from INCOIS on wave heights, weather, wind speed, latitude and longitude of potential fishing zone that includes zones of fish aggregation, concentration of catch etc.
The information would be transmitted through GSM enabled mobile service provider and World Space Radio Receiver and also public address system. Therefore, generic information would be converted to location-specific information.
The Training Centre would include degree and non-degree courses such as appreciation courses in value addition. It would provide for flexible timings to accommodate fisherfolks’ learning.
Value addition would conform to principles of CODEX-HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), the international code on Food Hygiene.
Conceived as a community-based initiative, MSSRF has provided for content, capacity-building and hardware and land was identified by the Community.
According to Dr. Swaminathan, the object is to create self-sustaining communities through capacity building.
“The vision is to create a brand Poompuhar for their catch in a year’s time. It would provide for a collaborative platform for the fisherfolk, scientists, fish-dependent ancillary activities, and banks," Dr. Swaminathan told The Hindu.
Poompuhar was chosen for its historical status, considering it provided a contact point between Tamil Nadu and South East Asia.
According to Dr. Swaminathan, the institute would also mainstream ecological principles in all aspects right from capture to consumption. This includes value-addition that would increase shelf-life, and marketability that would ensure competitive prices for the produce.
Speaking on the occasion, Kanimozhi, MP, focused on the women-centric component to it. “The moment the boats glide ashore with their catch, it becomes the women’s business to take over. The goal would be to equip them with value-addition training.
While, fisher folk had traditional knowledge, a resource centre to provide an edge to their traditional knowledge would fructify their labour, Ms. Kanimozhi said. She assured of State Government’s support to the endeavour.
D. Purandeswari, Minister of State, Human Resources Development, called for the need to bridge the gap between the potential production of 3.9 million tones and actual production of 2.9 million tonnes in fisheries sector. A training centre to augment shelf-life and export potential of the catch would go a long way in uplifting a neglected community, she said.
The project is conceived as a component of the integrated Coastal Zone Management of MSSRF. The Community College, affiliated to Indira Gandhi National Open University would receive technical inputs from INCOIS and content from IGNOU.