"I am delighted to inaugurate the 5th AQUA AQUARIA INDIA, India’s International Aquaculture Show, organized by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
Fisheries is close to my heart. A great part of my public life has been entwined with activities related to the welfare of the coastal people in my home state, Andhra Pradesh.
As you know, Asia is the largest fish producer in the world and in 2016, 85 % of the global population engaged in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors was in Asia.
In India, only after independence in 1947,was fisheries recognized as a sector with great potential for growth. Mechanization commenced in the 1950s, which has revolutionized harvest and post-harvest activities.
Today, India is the second largest fish producer in the world with a production of 13.70 Million Metric Tons of fish during 2018-19.
Fish constituted about 10 % of total exports from India and almost 20% of agriculture exports in 2017-18. With export earnings of US $ 7 Billion, India is the 4th largest exporter of fish in the world.
Apart from exporting marine products worth more than Rs.47,600 crore, the sector also provides employment opportunities to more than 14.5 million people, residing in remote villages of the Indian coast.
Contribution of fisheries to the GDP is about 1% and about 5.37 % to the Agricultural GDP.
The world fish production through capture and culture fisheries in the marine as well as freshwater regimes, was estimated to be about 178.8 million Metric Tons. Out of this, the food fish production was estimated at 157.9 million Metric Tons.
The world population is ever increasing and the rising food demand is putting further pressure on the available food resources.
Hence, the need to boost fish production is felt now, more than ever to ensure food security to our billion-strong population.
Since over 16% of animal protein supplies originate from the fisheries sector, the sector is identified as a major factor contributing to food security.
The Global Per Capita Food Fish consumption is estimated at 20.7 kg/per annum. Out of this 11.4 Kg (55%) is contributed by Aquaculture and rest by capture fishery.
India is blessed with vast aquatic resources with a rich diversity of fish fauna for sustainable utilization.
Our country harbors about 2,200 species of fish, which accounts for about 11% of all the fish species reported globally.
With a long coastline of over 8000 Kms, 2.02 Million Sq. Km. of Exclusive Economic Zone, 0.5 Million Sq. Km of continental shelf area, India is estimated to have exploitable fisheries resources of 3.9 million Metric Tons of which only about 3.0 million Metric Tons are presently exploited.
Further, about 1.2 million hectares of potential brackish water area suitable for aquaculture and 5.4 Million hectares of area are available for Freshwater aquaculture in the country.
India’s vast and diverse aquatic resources offer excellent opportunity for expansion of aquaculture foodfish production.
My dear sisters and brothers,
It is a fact that globally aquaculture is being looked upon as the best alternative to boost fish production, as the production from the traditional sector has been stagnating.
It is a matter of great concern that India exploits only a fraction of the aquaculture potential that is available to it.
India utilizes only about 40 percent of the available 2.36 million hectares of ponds and tanks for freshwater aquaculture and about 15 percent of a total potential brackish water resource of 1.2 million hectares.
In other words there is room for both horizontal and vertical expansion of these sectors.
With over 8 000 km of coastline there is immense potential for the development of mariculture which has taken roots only in recent years with culture of mussels and oysters.
Considering the substantial contribution aquaculture makes towards socio-economic development in terms of income and employment through the use of unutilized and underutilized resources in several regions of the country, environmentally friendly aquaculture has been accepted as a vehicle for rural development, food and nutritional security for the rural masses.
The systems of culture presently being adopted by Indian freshwater aqua culturists give yields varying from 1.5 to 4.5 Tons/ hectare/year.
This productivity is much less in comparison to 10 to 15 Tons/hectare/ year in countries like China and Israel.
In our country, intensive fish culture with a production of 10-15 Tons has been carried out is only on experimental basis and its commercial adoption is a dream yet.
Cage culture in floating or fixed cages is another option for diversifying.
Diversity of our aquaculture environmental system offers suitable sites for pen culture also.
Species like Tilapia, which has great demand in international markets can be cultured in freshwater environment by adopting diverse culture systems such as semi-intensive or intensive pond culture system, raceway system, cage culture systems etc.
Currently, Shrimp is the major species cultured in the coastal aquaculture systems and constituted the export-oriented aquaculture sector in the country. Commercial shrimp culture, which commenced in the early 1990s reached a peak in the year 2017-18 with the production of 7,00,000 MT of shrimp and scampi put together.
The stupendous growth of shrimp culture was possible because Government of India permitted regulated introduction of Pacific White shrimpwith the objective of utilizing the potential of the species to cater to the global markets.
My dear Sisters and brothers,
Most Asian countries are focusing on increasing fish production through advanced technological interventions, as there is a general understanding that production from marine capture fisheries does not promise much future in terms of quantity.
Studies have shown that catches from wild capture fisheries have actually been declining since peak global catches in the mid-1990s.
It is estimated that Primary production of the global ocean is expected to decline further by 6 % by 2100 and by 11 % in tropical zones.
Our future outlook must focus not on increasing our fishing efforts in the seas, but on judicious use of the declining fishery resources.
We need to focus on reducing losses and value addition and supplementing the ever-increasing need for fish through modern aquaculture technologies and diversification of the products.
On the one hand, we must focus on ensuring the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). The promotion, regulation and monitoring of responsible fishing practices, through robust fisheries management and governance frameworks, are essential for the sustainability of fisheries resources in both coastal areas and high seas.
Reckless exploitation of limited resources, especially endangered marine species must be strictly prevented.
We must also address burning concerns of pollution of marine and fresh water pollution. Discarded plastics and other residential waste, discharge from pesticides and industrial chemicals eventually find their way into our water bodies with devastating consequences for aquatic life and the habitats they depend on.
The looming threats of global warming and climate change would certainly have adverse effects on marine and aquatic habitats and life forms.
There is a need to respond to climate change in a coordinated manner across all food systems, to ensure opportunities are maximized and negative impacts reduced, and to secure food and livelihood provision.
Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which we build our fisheries sector.
My dear sisters and brothers,
It isalso necessary to ensure that much of the economic benefits from both capture fisheries and aquaculture reach the primary producers, i.e. the fishers and fish farmers.
We need to place special emphasis on initiatives which will improve the economic condition of farmers.
A number of interventions are needed.
We must, for example, reduce the role of middlemen, provide crop insurances, enhance access to credit, develop cold chains and good upcountry market linkages, provide infrastructure for post-harvest storage, handling and value addition.
I am aware that all essential technological support is being provided by the eight Fisheries Research Institutes under Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), several other mandated organizations like the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) and numerous NGOs such as the Asian Fisheries Society Indian Branch (AFSIB). However, much more needs to be done to spread awareness and provide services to the farmers.
Fisheries and Aquaculture are multidisciplinary subjects where scientists and technologists have to work as teams. Gatherings such as this one should focus not only serve as platforms for sharing knowledge and information on new technologies but alsostrive to take this knowledge to the common people, fish farmers and primary producers.
Greater R&D support with strong linkages between research and development agencies, increased investment in fish and shrimp hatcheries, diversified aquaculture species, establishment of aquaculture estates, feed mills and ancillary industries have all been identified as important areas for maintaining the pace of growth of the sector.
Policy decisions on the utilization of the off shore region for sea farming also is to be taken into account.
Aquaculture should be streamlined through a set of regulations, codes of practices for various sub-sectors with suitable penal provisions for violation.
Activities and responsibilities of different institutes working for development of aquaculture with different plans and allocations also to be defined to avoid ambiguity and duplication.
The government of India is in the vanguard of transforming the economy andhas envisioned to double farmers’ incomes by 2022 through efforts to reduce costs and improve production, productivity and quality.
In order to achieve enhanced production and productivity and assure a decent farm gate price to the fishers and fish farmers and simultaneously provide the requisite impetus to the fisheries sector leading to a paradigm shift, there is imminent need for formulating and adopting multi-pronged strategies and interventions
I earnestly hope that all the discussions during the technical sessions will be directed towards sustainable development of aquaculture for optimal utilization of our resource potential.
I congratulate MPEDA for organizing the 3 day exposition of this magnitude covering exposition and Technical sessions. Such events will help giving a renewed impetus to the sector by infusing new ideas and advanced technology. I earnestly hope that all the discussions during the technical sessions will be directed towards sustainable development of aquaculture for optimal utilization of our resource potential. I am glad to declare this event inaugurated and I wish the exposition all success.