Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act will give impetus to aquaculture
CHENNAI: Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said that the tsunami had brought into focus the need for disaster management in fisheries and aquaculture, not only rehabilitation and restoration, but also forecasting, forewarning, awareness and equipping fishermen and farmers to face eventualities.
Inaugurating a two-day national level interactive meeting with representatives of fisheries and aquaculture sectors here, he said the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005 that was long pending, would provide the necessary impetus to coastal aquaculture.
"A model Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill is also being worked out."
Though exports in the fisheries sector were over 4.6 lakh tonnes last year, valued at over Rs.6,600 crore, there was tremendous potential for substantially increase. "One of the emerging concerns of the Government is that the fallout of the World Trade Organisation regime, trade liberalisation with concomitant regulatory mechanisms coming into operations and their impact on the fisheries sector."
India stood fourth in total fish production, with an annual production of about 6.4 million tonnes including 3.4 million tonnes contributed by the marine sector. With an annual growth rate of six per cent, the country was the second largest producer of fish through aquaculture in the world, next to China. he said.
The fisheries sector contributed about 1.4 per cent to the GDP and 4.5 per cent to the agricultural GDP.
"The projected annual growth rates of marine fisheries during the Tenth Plan is 2.5 per cent and that of inland fisheries is 8 per cent, with an average of 5.4 per cent."
Mr. Pawar felt that there was wide scope for fresh water aquaculture. With only 40 per cent of available cultivable water area under aquaculture, the average productivity of tanks and ponds was 2.2 tonnes per hectare per year in Fish Farmers Development Agency ponds. This could be doubled by increasing the coverage, he saidadding that there was also ample scope for enhancing ornamental fisheries in the country.
Brackish water resources
The country had huge brackish water resources of over 1.2 million hectares suitable for farming with about 13 per cent under culture. Availability of around eight million hectares of inland saline soil could be a potential resource for aquaculture.
The Director General of ICAR, Mangala Rai; Deputy Director General (Fisheries) S. Ayyappan; Secretary of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries P.M.A. Hakeem and Joint Secretary Ajay Bhattacharya highlighted the issues to be discussed at the meet.