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Government plans to unleash 'Blue Revolution'

Economic Times:  June, 2016

New Delhi: Laying roads for 'Blue Revolution' through an ambitious target, the Centre has decided to work for increasing the country's export earnings from fish and fish products from Rs 33,441 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next five years.

The agriculture ministry will next month come out with a new national policy on fisheries, paving the way to achieve this target through implementation of an umbrella scheme for integrated development and management of fisheries. The private sector will also be involved to achieve the objective.

The new policy will cover development and management of inland fisheries, aquaculture, marine fisheries including deep sea fishing and all activities undertaken by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) towards realising a 'Blue Revolution' in the country.

"The new policy on fisheries is ready for release early next month. The ministry will on that occasion specify how it would go for nearly three-fold increase in the country's export earnings from fish and fish products in next five years through various policy intervention with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for a period of five years," said an official.

He said, "Focus on fisheries, particularly the inland ones, will also help in realising the goal of doubling the income of farmers in next five-six year through involving them in allied activities by tapping various water bodies including newly dug up ponds across the country."

India's fish production has increased from 7.5 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 100.70 lakh tonnes during 2014-15, while the export earnings touched Rs 33,441 crore. It accounts for around 18% of export earnings from the agricultural sector.

India is at present the second largest producer of fish in the world after China. More than 50 different types of fish and shellfish products are exported to 75 countries.

Currently, the USA is the largest market for Indian seafood products with a share of 26.46% in terms of India's export of marine products followed by South East Asian countries (25.71%) and European Union nations (20.08%).

Asked how the country would achieve the ambitious target of three-fold increase in export earnings in the next five years, the official said the ministry had already proposed to merge all existing schemes in the fisheries sector that would mainly focus on increasing production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources - both inland and marine.

Besides the increase in fish production, the integrated scheme would stimulate growth of the subsidiary and allied industries and growth of other related economic activities, especially in the coastal regions, leading to many direct and indirect benefits to the entire fisheries sector.