Marine fish production in the country stood at 3.58 million tonnes in 2015-16, against the potential yield of 4.41 million tonnes estimated for India's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), provisional figures released by agriculture ministry showed.
India's marine fish production from its exclusive economic zone varied during the last four years with reported catch of 3.32 million tonnes in 2012-13, 3.44 million tonnes in 2013-14, 3.66 million tonnes (provisional) in 2014-15 and 3.58 million tonnes (provisional) in 2015-16, respectively.
The variations in fish production is attributed to several reasons such as high fishing pressure, changes in fishing gear dimensions, over capacity, pollution, environmental factors, climate change etc, minister of state for agriculture and farmers welfare Sanjeev Kumar Balyan informed the Lok Sabha today.
To allay fears of the local community that the fall in fish catch is due mainly to the activities of deep-sea fishing vessels (DSFVs) in the EEZ, the department of fisheries has said that these vessels are allowed to carry out only resource-specific fishing beyond 12 nautical miles from the territorial limits.
''Apprehensions of local fishing community, if any, regarding poor fish yield in territorial waters due to operation of these DSFVs are largely unsubstantiated, as the areas of operation as well as targeted resources are different in case of DSFVs and the local traditional fishing communities,'' the statement added.
The government had in July 2015 set up a committee headed by Dr S Ayyappan, former director general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to inter alia ascertain the present status of exploitation of marine fishery resources by various sectors, namely, traditional sector, mechanized boats sector and deep-sea fishing vessels.
The committee has been asked to consult all stakeholders for preparing a draft National Policy on Marine Fisheries for over-all development of marine fisheries in India.
Balyan also informed the House that in order to increase fish production in the country, the department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries is also promoting inland water fishing in reservoirs, wetlands and rivers across the country.
The government provides financial assistance for stocking of fish fingerlings, river ranching, procurement of craft and gear, construction of landing centres, conducting training and demonstration to farmers under the schemes on development of inland fisheries and aquaculture.
He said the department is also providing assistance for installation of cages in reservoirs, construction and renovation of fish ponds and tanks, construction of fish hatcheries, fish seed rearing farms, raceways etc.
The government has recently approved a restructured scheme on 'Blue Revolution for integrated development and management of fisheries' by merging and integrating the existing schemes of fisheries for integrated and holistic development of fisheries and aquaculture, the minister added.