Inland fisheries support millions of people and remains a major source of nutrition for a very large number of poorest people. This includes riverine fisheries, reservoir fisheries, wetland and local water body fisheries. Here we try to provide an overview of developments in this sector during the year 2020.
The overview has following sections: Policy & Governance in Centre, followed by in States, some positive developments, Covid-19 & Fishing Community, Fisher folks’ struggles, New Fish Species, Invasive fish, Fish Deaths & Pollution, Over fishing & Extinction, Studies related to inland fisheries.
FISHERIES STATISTICS The Union Ministry of Statistics and program implementation says this about Inland Fisheries statistics, see: http://mospi.nic.in/416-fisheries-statistics.
1 Fisheries of India can be broadly classified into two types namely, marine fisheries and inland fisheries. The Fisheries Statistics Section of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in the Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of compiling the data relating to this sector. At present data on items like fish production, prawn production, fish seed production, disposal of fish catch, preserved and processed items and aquaculture are being collected from State Governments.
2 So far as inland fisheries are concerned, there were several attempts to develop suitable sampling techniques for estimation of catch since 1955, but they have remained inconclusive. The Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), Barrakpore lately devised a methodology for collection of data relating to some important still water areas. This involves dividing water sources into two categories namely, fresh water and brackish water bodies each with a distinct ecology, and classifying them further into three groups according to the level of production. Different sampling methods are adopted for assessment of fish production in each group. There is still a large data gap in coverage not only geographically but also in terms of several sources of inland fisheries such as rivers, canals, etc.
3 The data on fish production from the inland sector are collected by the State Governments. It is noticed that the resources required for regular data collection are quite large and the cost incurred is not commensurate with the actual volume of fish production. Inland fisheries pose several problems due to the vast and diverse nature of water sources and it is necessary to develop a cost-effective methodology. IASRI is presently engaged in some pilot studies in this regard but more concerted effort is urgently called for.
4 The data on fish production from aqua culture, supplied by the States, similarly suffer from poor quality and become available with considerable time lag. The types of culturing methods are not reflected in the data.
5 The data on fisherman population, fishing craft and gear are available from both the State Governments and the Livestock Census, while data on workers engaged in fishing are also available from the population census. However, the data from these sources are not comparable due to differences in concepts and definitions and their application across States.
6 There is an apparent inconsistency between the value of the output and the export earnings, the latter being much higher. An exploratory study is required to reconcile the discrepancy.
Conclusions and Recommendations
7 Since the CIFRI and the IASRI are involved in the development of sampling methodology for inland fisheries, the Commission considers that these institutes should be properly equipped to develop an alternative methodology. The alternative approach should also consider the possibility of undertaking enquiries of fishermen households wherever there is a large concentration of fishing especially along major riverbanks.
8 The Commission recommends that:
The survey methodology for estimating production of inland fisheries especially with regard to running water sources (rivers and canals) should receive urgent attention and the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) along with the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) should be provided with adequate support to develop this programme on a priority basis.
The States should improve the recording of area under still water by appropriate modification of land use statistics.
The discrepancies between the two sources of data namely, Livestock Census and State reports with regard to data on fishermen, fishing craft and gear should be reconciled by adoption of uniform concepts and definitions and review of these statistics at the district and State levels.
Handbook for fisheries statistics Union Minister released the handbook on fisheries statistics-2018 (The last (12th edition of) Handbook was published in 2014.) in India Sept 19, 2019. The Press Release from the Ministry of Fisheries on that occasion said among other things: The percentage contribution of inland fish production in the total fish production of 29% during the year 1950-51 and has increased to 71% in the year 2017-18. Andhra Pradesh has recorded the highest production of inland fish (34.50 lakh tones). The Fisheries sector is major source of livelihood for over 1.60 Crore people along with double the number in down and upstream. Development of fisheries can ensure nutritional security, food security of India and also provide employment in these regions that are predominately inhabited by rural populace. The total fish production of 12.59 million metric tonnes was registered during 2017-18 with a contribution of 8.90 million metric tonnes from inland sector. The average growth in fish production during 2017-18 stands at 10.14% when compared to 2016-17 (11.43 million metric tonnes). This is mainly due to 14.05% growth in Inland fisheries when compared to 2016-17 (7.80 million metric tonnes). India is currently world’s second largest producers of fish. It is also world number two in aquaculture production as well as in inland capture fisheries. The full handbook is available at: http://dof.gov.in/sites/default/files/2020-08/HandbookonFS2018.pdf.