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India fails to make full use of deep sea fisheries resources

India fails to make full use of deep sea fisheries resources
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Lack of adequate information on the availability and extent of commercial exploitation of conventional and non-conventional resources beyond the present fishing grounds in Bay of Bengal has been a major constraint for the development of deep sea fishing. “The marine fish production, which was only five lakh tonnes during 1950s, increased to 27 lakh tonne by late 90s.

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  • India has a wide Exclusive Economic Zone of about 21.72 lakh sq km
  • Still 5.41 lakh sq km to be tapped for resources
  • The present marine fish exploitation from Indian EEZ is 30 lakh tonne out of the total harvestable potential of 39 lakh tonne per annum
Nellore: Lack of adequate information on the availability and extent of commercial exploitation of conventional and non-conventional resources beyond the present fishing grounds in Bay of Bengal has been a major constraint for the development of deep sea fishing. “The marine fish production, which was only five lakh tonnes during 1950s, increased to 27 lakh tonne by late 90s.

The present marine fish exploitation from Indian EEZ (exclusive economic zone where a nation has a right over exploitation of marine resources) is 30 lakh tonne out of the total estimated harvestable potential of 39 lakh tonne. This is totally from inshore waters. The remaining potential of about 9.2 lakh tonne, largely in the deep seas and oceanic region, remains untapped,” said Dr U Sreedhar from CIFT (Central Institute of Fisheries Technology). The deep sea is the part of the ocean more than 200 metre deep and is in permanent darkness.

It is the largest habitat on earth where deep-demersal fish comprises about 6.4 per cent of the total number of species of fishes that are known. The environment in the area is dark, cold and less productive. Deep sea fishing flourished in developed countries and continents like Europe, Soviet Union, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Until the last few decades, there has been little activity or interest in deeper waters in India, apart from the occasional ventures by Indian scientists. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), sea is divided into four zones: Territorial Sea (coast to 12 nautical miles), Contiguous zone (coast to 24 nautical miles), Exclusive Economic Zone (coast to 200 nautical miles), and Legal Continental Shelf (coast to a maximum of 350 nautical miles).

In EEZ, a country has a right to use both the living and non-living resources in the waters, sea surface, and sub-surface.India has a wide EEZ of about 21.72 lakh sq km all along the 8,129 km long coastline. The living and non-living resources in this zone constitutes around two-thirds of the landmass of the country. Of these, an area of 16.31 sq km covers the deeper parts of the EEZ at depths in excess of 500 m, and the rest 5.41 lakh sq km occurs in the shallow areas.

Trawling has emerged as the most important method for exploiting demersal fishery resources (demersal fish live near the bottom of seas), especially prawns and shrimps, and trawlers have become the main mode of the fishing sector and 50 per cent of the total Indian catch comes from trawlers. There has been a steady increase in the marine fish production over the years in India.

BY:PV Prasad
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