Fishing it forward for Indian seafood industry

Fishing it forward for Indian seafood industry

Indian seafood exports have recorded a marginal drop at 0.94 million tonnes, earning $4.7 billion to the exchequer during the fiscal year of 2015-16. During the same period last year, seafood exports were recorded at one million tonnes, amounting to an all-time high of $5.5 billion, according to Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).  
Multiple reasons

MPEDA attributed the drop in seafood exports in 2015-16 to the revival of the aquaculture production (especially shrimp) in Thailand and Vietnam, which has resulted in a better supply situation in the international market, and depreciation of Euro, weaker economic condition in China, devaluation of Yen.

The authority, earlier, envisaged export of marine products worth $ 6.6 billion during the year 2015-16, with an increased production of L Vannamei shrimp, diversification of aquaculture species particularly of Tilapia and Mangrove crab, quality control measures and increase in infrastructure facilities for production of value added items are expected to help in achieving this target.

India exports to around 106 countries in the world with South East Asia, the European Union, the US, Japan, China and the Middle East being the major markets. India is the second largest aquaculture producer in the world, largest exporter of shrimp to USA, the second largest exporter of shrimps to Europe and the fourth largest exporter of shrimps to Japan. 

Frozen shrimp holds the major share in India's export earnings and frozen fish is the principal export item in terms of quantity. Frozen cephalopods are also contributing a major share in the export earnings. Exports of dried, chilled and live items are also showing upward trend. Frozen shrimp continued to be the major export item in the last fiscal, in the export basket in terms of quantity and value, accounting for a share of 34.01 % in quantity and 67.19% of the total dollar earnings. 

The US continued to be the major importer of Indian seafood with a share of 28.5% in value terms at 1,53,695 tonnes of seafood during 2015-16 fiscal. During the last fiscal the US imported 1,12,702 tonnes followed by European Union with 81,952 tonnes, South East Asia (69,068 tonnes) and Japan (30,434 tonnes).

The contribution of cultured shrimp to the total shrimp export is 76.45% in terms of dollar. The export of cultured shrimp has shown positive growth of 21.66% in quantity and 15.53% in dollar terms. During 2014 -15 shrimp aquaculture has shown a tremendous growth (30.64%) and achieved highest production (4,34,558 tonnes).

Importance of fisheries

Fisheries are an important sector in India. Fisheries supports livelihood of almost 1.5 million people in the country. India is one of the leading producers of fish in the world, occupying the second position globally in terms of production. The contribution of Indian fish to the food basket of the world has been substantial.  After independence, fish production has increased from 7.5 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 100.70 lakh tonnes during 2014-15.

India is blessed with a coastline of over 8,118 kms and 2.02 million sq km of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Continental shelf, estimated to have exploitable resources to the tune of 4.41 million tonnes of which about 3.40 million tonnes, are presently exploited. The estimated potential brackish water area suitable for shrimp farming is about 1.2 million hectare, of which around 14% is utilised for farming, producing about five lakh tonnes of shrimp and scampi which is going to the export basket.

India’s total fishery production was 9.58 million tonnes from both marine and inland during 2012-14, in which inland sector contributed 6.14 million tonnes and marine sector 3.44 million tonnes. India’s seafood industry has become one of the leading suppliers of quality seafood to all the major markets of the world. India has world class seafood processing plants that follow quality control regimes complaint to stringent international regulatory requirements.

MPEDA envisage an ambitious target of $10 billion for the year 2020. Increased production of L Vannamei shrimp and increase in infrastructure facilities for production of value added items are considered to be the helping factors to achieve this target. With the growing demand for Indian seafood products across the world, the dynamics of the seafood business in India is changing fast. There is a tremendous growth in the resources and infrastructure of the Indian seafood industry today.

Quality capacity

India has an installed processing capacity of 23,000 tonnes with 506 state-of-the-art processing plants, out of which over 62% of them are EU approved plants. Almost every plant has put in place HACCP and other quality control system on par with the best in the world to ensure highest quality output.

The agriculture ministry has been working on bringing into effect a new national policy on marine fisheries, with schemes involving the private sector for developing and managing fisheries. The policy, promoting a ‘Blue Revolution’ will cover marine development and management, and all other undertakings of the National Fisheries Development Board concerned with aquaculture and fisheries.

With Indian fisheries now set in a globalised economy, the government has come with up a draft policy, which will ensure the health and ecological integrity of the marine living resources of India through sustainable harvests for the benefit of current and future generations of the nation.

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