Inland Fisheries : The Way Forward

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The vision document of the fisheries department of Uttar Pradesh (2013) and now supported exceedingly well by the programmes envisaged under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) can easilydeliver on the targets with some imaginative strategies.

UP produced 6.99 lakh metric tonnes of fish in 2019-20 of the 104.37 lakh metric tonnes of inland fish harvested in India. Majorly, inland fish production in UP consisted of 5.61 lakh metric tonnesof Indian major carps and 1.26 lakh metric tonnes of minor carps. The current average fish yield from UP reservoirs is only 15 kg/per hectare a year, thus producing only about 1000 tons annually from 1.49 lakh hectares.

Despite the straightforward strategies identified to raise the productivity of reservoirs, it is unlikely to achieve the target of 280 kg of fish/ha unless appropriate scientific and co-management practices are set in place.

The importance of public-private partnership in fisheries is no less important for its success than how it has proved to be a success in sports. The contribution of Inspire Institute of Sports of Kotak Mahindra Bank and JSW sports has played no mean role in India’s success at the Tokyo Olympics.

Similarly, the collaboration of Tata group in cage culture fisheries in reservoirs in Andhra Pradesh is a script that can be replicated in Uttar Pradesh. It is the livelihood element that scores highest in any project.The involvement of the Tatas began in 2016 when communities were mobilized through local self-help groups. Modified strategies and support systems can be developed with any identified corporate group in UP under their CSR programme.

It is archaic thinking to expect co-management to happen, explode and sustain on its own in fisheries, especially when dealing with live material. Constant handholding and supervision at every level of supplementary stocking, hatchery management, organizing of networking between the department and the fishersself-help groups for involving them as active partners in planning, implementation and decision making process, creation of adequate rearing space for ex-situ/in-situ production of quality fingerlings for stocking;  leasing of reservoirs on long-term; and continuous programme for HRD of reservoir fisheries managers and fishers;the banks that are involved in enabling the financial flow through, marketing arrangements; sale of the fish and remittance of the income needs to be done through CSR involvement.

Another opportunity to explode reservoir fish production is to avail the PMMSY window of creation of FPOs (Fishers Producers Organisations) in the various locations in the state. The biggest hitch that we have faced in the establishment of FPOs in Maharashtra among ornamental fish breeders is the difficulty in recruiting a technically qualified manager owing to the unwillingness of qualified fisheries personnel to take up the challenge of managing the FPO. This again needs to be bridged with the CSR participation. This can also be attempted to be corrected with the involvement of fisheries students in such FPOs as a compulsory component of their RAWE program.

Only with these measures can it be expected that annual fish yield will increase to 400 kg, 300 kg, 100 kg and 50 kg for small-A, small-B, medium and large reservoirs, respectively, thereby increasing the total fish production from reservoirs from the current level of about 1000 tons to over 6200 tons.Such efforts will also help meet the PMMSY targets set for the state.

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