The need of the hour is to have a separate Ministry for handling fisheries subject in the national level to provide focus attention to that sector, said Union Minister of State Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, K.V. Thomas, on Sunday.

Delivering the presidential address at the first edition of ‘Aqua Aquaria India 2011' organised by Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), he said, “Though fisheries is a State subject, the multiplicity of organisations under various Ministries under the Central Government at times fails to have a focussed attention in the national interest. This needs to be addressed by forming a separate Ministry.”

Mr. Thomas said that though fisheries formed part of the agriculture department, many of the concessions given to the agriculture sector had not been passed on to the fisheries sector for several years and the Centre was taking steps to rectify the situation.

Releasing an Ornamental Fish Directory, the Minister said that greater R&D support with strong linkages between R&D agencies, increased investment in fish and shrimp hatcheries, diversified aquaculture species, establishment of aquaculture estates, feed mills and ancillary industries have been identified as important areas for maintaining the pace.

As part of the three-day international show on ‘Aquaculture and Ornamental Fish,' the Minister inaugurated the exhibition, released a book on Green certification guidelines and presented MPEDA awards to 24 exporters for outstanding performance in 2009-2010.

In her address of welcome, MPEDA Chairman Leena Nair said, “The estimated production of cultured ornamental fish in the country is minuscule. However, there is huge potential. Currently most of India's ornamental fish production is used for domestic sales. A large quantity of captured ornamental fish is being exported. In order to promote the sector as well as preserve our environmental heritage, MPEDA is providing technical inputs and organising the sector with collaboration for funding with National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB).”

Ms. Nair said that with the introduction of Litopenaeus vannamei shrimp culture in the country, the cultured shrimp production was poised to reach new heights.

NFDB Chief Executive P. Krishnaiah urged the Centre to set up a mega Food Park for fisheries in the country and said it could be formed in Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu. NFDB was ready to give Rs.50 lakh to each State for the setting up of ‘Disease Diagnostic Lab' to take care of seed, feed and diseases.

Orissa Minister for Agriculture Co-operation, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development, Damodar Raut, said his government was in the process of forming a Fishing Harbour Management Authority and had drawn up a perspective plan to double fish production. In this connection, he invited businessmen to make best use of the opportunity by investing in their State.