Indian state minister urges fisheries sector to pay more attention to social issues

Published on
January 15, 2020

The fisheries minister of India’s southern state of Kerala is calling on the region’s fisheries sector to push its sustainable development toward serving people.

During the third international symposium on marine ecosystems, held at India’s Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFR), J Mercykutty Amma said fisheries management should focus on environmental, economic, and social factors with equal importance. The sector should not be limited only on conservation of resources and the environment, but should play a more important role in ensuring the livelihoods of billions of people.

“In addition to aiming at ending poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, the sustainable development should ensure universal access to health care to all with major emphasis on gender issues. It should also ensure the elimination of all forms of inequality everywhere,” she said.

According to the minister, it is important to reduce pressure on ocean resources, especially the anthropogenic activities that have taken a heavy toll on ocean health. Protection of key habitats and sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture are vital to restore the productivity of the ocean. Mercykutty Amma added that restoring the productivity of the ocean would help ensure future growth, food security, and jobs for coastal communities.

The minister said that the state government has begun promoting the concept of co-management in fisheries by setting up management societies at harbors and at fishing villages.

“The government took a series of measures to ensure sustainable development of the marine fisheries sector in consultation with the scientific community. The measures, including implementation of a minimum legal size, regulation of engine power of fishing crafts and regulation of size of fishing crafts have had positive impacts on resources,” the minister said.

The third international symposium on marine ecosystems, which concluded 10 January, was organized by the Marine Biological Association of India (MBAI).

The conference came up with a road map to deal with the issues being faced by marine ecosystems. Guidelines and proposals for proper management of marine fisheries included in the road map could become a guide for policy makers for the next three years.

On top priority of the recommendations, marine scientists have called for a complete ban on trawling in India's territorial waters within 12 nautical miles. These areas should be demarcated as exclusive zone for small-scale fishermen, they said.

The symposium also demanded that India’s Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 be reformed in a way that would make it effective in conservation of marine species of the country. 

Considering the importance of community-based management of traditional fishers, the conference suggested that community participation should strictly be ensured while implementing the co-management in marine fisheries.

At a time when conditions for commercial fishing undergo drastic changes – owing to the climate crisis, marine pollution, coastal development and overexploitation – more sustainable fish-capture technologies have to be developed. Automation and digitization should be incorporated in fisheries technology used in the country's fishing sector, they said.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Contributing Editor reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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