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Centre plans Rs 25,000 crore investment in fisheries sector

The Centre is planning an investment of Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years to revamp the fisheries infrastructure sector in the country, expand the scope of inland fisheries and increase productivity in aquaculture farms by monitoring disease and implementing traceability so as to double seafood exports.

Rajni Sekhri Sibal, secretary of the newly formed department of fisheries, said the entire exercise will help double seafood exports in five years from around Rs 47,000 crore at present. The department also hopes to double the aquaculture productivity from three tonnes per hectare now, she said.

Sibal told ET on the sidelines of Aqua Aquaria, the biennial aquaculture and ornamental fish show, organised by the Marine Products Export Development Authority at Hyderabad, that funds will be pumped in through different schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Sampada Yojana and World Bank schemes to be launched next year. “We have already started fishery infrastructure development fund with Rs 7,300 crore. It is more or less an interest subvention scheme,’’ said Sibal. Apart from giving a facelift to the harbours and landing sites, the government is looking at joint venture projects for developing hatcheries, nurseries and quarantine facilities for laboratories, she said.

Viability gap funding will be made available for setting up processing plants, transport and cold chain facilities, and marketing. The department is viewing the issue of traceability in seafood seriously to increase exports. “Our effort is to provide quality fish from farm to fork and from catch to consumer. We will give a set of protocols for preparation of feed and certification of seed,’’ said Sibal.

As only 52% inland fishery potential has been realised so far, the ministry is in the process of tying up with countries that will supply technology in cold water fishery so as to widen its scope. “We have already signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with Norway. We will soon sign an agreement with Iceland and Denmark for breeding high value fishes like trout,’’ said Sibal.

She said the Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management Bill, which is in the public domain for discussion, will help regulate the entire exclusive economic zone of the country and prevent poaching by foreign fishing vessels. Trawlers, fishing gear and net will be regulated under the fish management system, for which rules will be framed by November. Monitoring control system for boats that help trace vessels if they get lost is also on the anvil. “We will provide unique licence numbers and insurance for boat and crew. The money from licensing fee will go for increasing welfare and safety measures of fishermen and research,’’ said Sibal.

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