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Experts Unveil Steps to Raise fish Output, Provide Food Security

In Kerala
February 04, 2021

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
Kerala’s Fisheries Minister J Mercikutty Amma and experts today spelt out a series of reform measures, including infrastructure improvement, to address the problems of the fisheries sector in the country in order to increase output, generate employment, ensure food security and meet ambitious export targets.

The minister and experts, including Dr Modadugu Vijay Gupta and Dr Riji John, were addressing a digital session on new challenges and opportunities of the fisheries sector. The session was part of the three-day International Conference and Consultation, Kerala Looks Ahead, organized by the State Planning Board.

Pointing out that about 25 per cent of fish was going waste due to lack of infrastructure, the minister and the experts said there was need for enhancing field level expertise and reforming the fisheries education system in Kerala. There was also need for modernizing distribution and marketing and ensuring that the production was free from pesticides and other chemicals in the interest of consumers, both in India and importing countries.

The minister noted that the marine fish resource was not inexhaustible and this underlined the need for optimizing fish production and consumption for sustainable growth of the sector. The sector should be developed in a holistic manner by incorporating the principles of social inclusion and sustainability, she said.

Dr Gupta, former Assistant Director General of the World Fish Centre, said the target for stepping up production from the current level of 13.7 million tonnes to 22 million tonnes by 2025 involving an annual growth rate of 9 per cent was achievable with the support of an appropriate policy framework and willpower. This would also generate employment for five million people additionally, he noted.

“If we improve the infrastructure, the wastage can be reduced from the present 30 per cent to 20 per cent,” he said.

Dr Gupta called for increasing the number of fish species and ensuring easy availability of seeds. “Also, fisheries cannot remain a standalone activity. It should be integrated into national development plans and priorities.”

Further, there was a huge gap between research and development as technology was not percolating to the fishing community, he pointed.

Endorsing the views of the minister and Dr Gupta, Dr K Riji John, Vice Chancellor of Kerala University for Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), said measures were on to reduce fish contamination. He called for suitable steps to help Kerala catch up with Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in various aspects of fish production.