Calcutta, Sept 9 (PTI): India’s rank as the second-largest fish producer in the world is nothing to cheer about, since it is a tenth that of the world No 1, according to a fisheries scientist.
And no prizes for guessing which is the world’s largest producer of freshwater fish: China.
Prof C. Mohanakumaran Nair, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University of Fisheries & Ocean Studies, told PTI that in 2012, China had produced 570 lakh tonnes of fish and marine algae, which was 63 per cent of its total aquaculture production, he said.
Excluding marine algae, China's production of food fish was 411.08 lakh tonnes, while India's was 42.09 lakh tonnes, just around ten per cent, Prof Nair said.
He pointed out that Indian aquaculture was limited to less than ten species of fish, while China cultures over a 100 species on a commercial scale.
Describing India as a “sleeping giant” because of its untapped fish production potential, the scientist said, ”India's fish production has been showing a marginal increase every year. From 41.57 lakh tonnes in 1991-92 it has increased to 90.40 lakh tonnes in 2012-13.
”The marine fish capture has increased by only about 36 per cent while there was a 234 per cent rise in the inland fish production. This shows the potential for development in this sector... India is a sleeping giant,” Nair said.
He said the country lacked a general policy to use its water bodies for aquaculture and thus not utilising its potential properly.
”There is no general policy to utilise the public water bodies for aquaculture including the coastal areas around us,” he said.
According to him, India's national policy should be focused on increasing production at all levels besides intensifying policy-based aquaculture activities.
”Indian fish production is limited to catches from natural water bodies and aquaculture in private ponds and tanks... There is a lack of proper policy to lease public water bodies for aquaculture activities, the Kerala University professor said.
He said there was need to develop vertically by increasing the present productivity of 2.4t/ha to at least 5t/ha besides bringing more and more area under fish culture.
Nair also suggested that India adopt the practises followed in China and Vietnam, which he said have helped the two nations register fast growth in the field.
”We could adopt practises in China and Vietnam. Integrated agri-aqua systems also need to be popularised more efficiently. Similarly, wherever applicable, we also need to learn some fish culture methods using advanced technology from Norway,” he said.
Apart from the policies, Nair said steps should be taken to develop the market support system and an efficient cold chain in this regard.
”Our market support system is very poor and we need to develop an efficient cold chain for safe and hygienic handling and marketing of fish and fishery products,” he said besides citing India's great potential in the global seafood market.
”We are one of the major seafood exporters in the world and our products have great reputation globally.
”In the last five years we started importing seafood. This year our import from Vietnam was worth over Rs 1,000 crore and it is annually increasing by 35 per cent. This shows we have a great domestic market and there is every reason for us to produce more locally and supply to our local markets,” he said.