India’s fishing industry is close to reaching saturation point.
The study by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has revealed that fish catch surged six times, from 0.6 million tons (mt) in 1961 to 3.53mt in 2010 – not far from the maximum potential of 4.4mt annually.
The contribution of mechanised boats increased from 15.3% of overall fish landings in 1961 to 76.2% in 2010, while it decreased from 84.7% to 3.7% for non-motorised boats. In 2010, trawlers used 35.58 million fishing hours with catch rate of 44.4kg per hour; thereby contributing 71.1% to the CO2 emission in the mechanised sub-sector.
On a global scale, fish catch has reached stagnation point at around 90mt since 1995.
At present, the CO2 emission intensity of India’s fishing industry is about 40% lower than global standards.
“The emissions are low but that is largely because our fishing boats are smaller compared to elsewhere in the world. However, through regulations and implementation of fuel efficiency norms for fishing vessels, there is scope for reducing CO2 emission in India,” said E Vivekanandan, principal investigator and emeritus scientist, CMFRI, Chennai.
According to the paper, i ncrease i n fuel consumption directly increases fishing cost and price of fish. “Fuel cost accounts for 50–54% of operating cost of mechanised boats, and 36–44% for motorised boats17. A majority of fish types is becoming unaffordable due to increasing fishing cost,” states the paper.
“There i s no i mmediate threat of depletion, but we need to take precautionary measures to control fish catch. Some regulations by the state and central government are in existence, but fishing needs to be further regulated to increase sustainability,” Vivekanandan said.