DOWN TO THE BASICS! #1 Fisheries
Following the news on what is currently going on with ocean conservation in India has become easy with the increase in coverage by print and online media. Social media is also going viral with news articles, opinion pieces, powerful images and personal stories. Be it about marine life, overfishing, diving, protecting coastlines or coastal people. This is both exciting and reassuring, to see more people taking an interest in marine conservation in their own ways and in doing so, inadvertently gathering the power of the masses!
Here at Know Your Fish, we want to participate in this growing movement for ocean awareness and sensitivity. We want to help people understand the important issues and present multiple perspectives on these issues. Most importantly, for those who are only just beginning to enter this conservation, we want to break things down to the basics, and soon, you can be up to speed with all things-ocean and conservation!
We begin our DOWN TO THE BASICS blog series introducing you to a commonly used term in the ocean conservation space- fishery. What does that mean exactly? Is it different from ‘fishing’? Is it a place? Or is it a set of people?
The terms fishing and fishery are often used interchangeably however they do not mean the same thing. ‘Fishing’ is the actual act of extracting marine life from the wild whereas ‘fisheries’ is the sector. The distinction is very similar to ‘farming’ that is done within the ‘Agriculture’ sector.
Based on a combination of the region, the scale of operation, type of fish, fishing method and fishing vessel used, there can be a number of types of fisheries. We have the global fishery but also national and state-level fisheries. To name a few more, we have large-scale commercial fisheries and small-scale subsistence fisheries, grouper, prawn and tuna fisheries, gill net, trawl and longline fisheries
Today in India, approximately 1.5 million people are directly dependent on marine fisheries as a source of livelihood. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), India’s annual consumption of fish stands at 3,43,6030 tonnes!
Photo credit: Tanvi Vaidyanathan
How are fisheries governed in India?
In India, there is no separate department of fisheries and it essentially comes under the Department of Agriculture. Here in India, fisheries is a state subject, which means that each state manages fishing in its waters separately. This decentralised system has its merits, like empowering local states to take actively take charge of resources. However, dialogue between fisheries departments between states, especially neighbours, is missing for the most part. For instance the annual 45-day fishing ban imposed by neighbouring states that fish in the same water, rarely coincide. And the question is, what do you do if the fish in our Indian waters do not adhere to the imaginary boundaries we have set an ocean that connects us all?