Distress of fishing community over Meenakumari Committee's new policy

Distress of fishing community over Meenakumari Committee's new policy

Question:-Although the Meena Kumari Committee has come up with a new policy to renew the fishing industry in India, it has set off a lot of concern and has not gone well with the fishing community. Explain critically the issues related to execution of the new policy.

- With fishing being one of the traditional occupations of India, there are many communities of fisherman. Various policies and committee reports have been introduced with an aim of modernizing fishing trawlers and upgrading cold storages.

- The Murari committee report of 1990s and the deep-sea fishing policy of 2004 based partially on this report, though meant to renew this sector, actually led to a further decline. It was followed by a sharp reduction in the number of large fishing vessels that were operating under joint ventures due to this policy. This caused the bulk of the fishing resources of India's vast exclusive economic zone to remain unexploited.

- The Meena Kumari committee was set up after observing that productivity from coastal zones was over exploited. Waters beyond 500 meter depth are not optimally tapped which is the reason for considerable scope in augmenting output of fish.

- The panel has suggested that since Indian fishing industry is not too well equipped, the companies must have larger fishing ships or collaborate with foreign companies.

- Meena Kumari had presented its report last August and its recommendations included the deploying of 1,178 deep sea vessels, that had the existing ones along with an additional 270 vessels comprising 240 tuna long liners, 15 squid jiggers and 15 purse seiner boats in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

- The committee has its focus on the Blue Revolution in India, according to which the new deep sea fishing policy was drafted. The new policy-

1. Promotes imports of foreign technologies.

2. Will increase foreign investments.

3. Will help increase revenue and production of fisheries which at present is below optimal level.

4. Develop backward and forward linkages, cold storage and supply chain.

5. Big vessels with a length 15 meter or more that can be owned or acquired by Indian entrepreneurs of the country with collabration of foreign investment up to 49 per cent.

Hurdles in implementation of recommendations

- EEZ guidelines allow deep sea fishing with letter of permission from the center but 10 coastal states have opposed this.

- Foreign and commercial interests in deep sea will lead to indiscriminate fishing and prove hazardous to marine resources.

- The big vessels have the permission to export their catch directly from the sea without touching the shore.

- View points of fishing community is not consulted.

- Traditional fisherman community too is not very pleased with the Meena Kumari committee suggestion of creating a buffer zone between the near and off shore regions in order to enhance resources in coastal and deep sea regions.

- The concerns of this community needs to addressed at the earliest because though India needs a blue revolution and modern technology, it should not be at the cost of livelihood.

- A more comprehensive approach at grass root level needs to be looked at.


- The Blue Revolution in India was started in 1970 during the Fifth Five-Year Plan

- Fishing in India is a major industry in its coastal states, employing over 14 million people.

- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, fish output in India doubled between 1990 and 2010.

- The marine fish harvested in India consist of about 65 commercially important species/groups.

- Aquaculture fish farming is a rapidly growing industry in India. In 2008 India was the sixth largest producer of marine and freshwater capture fisheries, and the second largest aquaculture farmed fish producer in the world.
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