New Delhi, Jan 28 (IBNS) The post harvest fish wastage leads to annual losses worth over Rs 15,000 crore in India's marine and inland fisheries sector, according to an analysis by apex industry body ASSOCHAM.
"The poor post-harvest fish handling infrastructure in major maritime states in India leads to wastage of about 25 per cent of the total fisheries resources," according to a sector-specific an analysis by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Besides, fish stocks in India's territorial deep-sea waters also remain untapped owing to the dearth of suitable fishing vessels and also because traditional fishing communities are over-exploiting the coastal waters which is leading to fast depletion of maritime resources and shrinking the catch from the coastal zones.
The post-harvest losses are generally caused due to poor handling, processing of fish leading to quality deterioration arising out of biochemical and microbiological spoilage, inadequate packaging, marketing malpractices and lack of proper storage facilities.
"These losses result in potential income loss to fishermen community and all the stakeholders, traders, processors, involved in fishing related ancillary operations as the spoiled, physically damaged fish fetches 20-25 per cent lower price compared to the best quality catch," said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber's analysis.
"Production of value-added fishery products should be encouraged to realize better returns for producers, besides there is also a need to develop top-notch harbor and storage facilities for development of marine products in the country," said Rawat.
"Sustainable practices like eco-friendly fisheries management must be adopted in capture, cultivation, utilization and marketing of marine products and there is also a need to bring in regulations to keep a check on over-exploitation of fisheries resources."
ASSOCHAM has suggested the government to modernize existing harbours and establish more cold storage facilities and factory vessels to aid the fish and marine industry which is worth over Rs 61,000 crore.
Besides, improved methods of fish handling and preservation facilities on-board fishing vessels must be provided through joint ventures for production and marketing of value-added fish products.
"Maximum care should be taken while catching, storing and handling of fish to avoid any damage to the catch as it would go a long way in improving the quality of India's marine products," said Rawat.
"The entire fishing community including the policy makers and other stakeholders need to find alternative sources to encourage more-sustainable practices in aquaculture otherwise it could lead to degradation of land and marine habitat."