Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has cautioned against reckless exploitation of limited resources, especially endangered marine species must be strictly prevented. He also called for measures to prevent discharge of harmful substances such as discarded plastics and other waste, discharge from pesticides and industrial chemicals into our water bodies as they will cause devastating consequences for aquatic life and the habitats they depend on.
Speaking at the inaugural of 5th Aqua Aquaria India, India’s International Aquaculture Show, organized by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), he said that the looming threats of global warming and climate change would have adverse effects on marine and aquatic habitats and life forms
Vice President stressed that there was an urgent need to respond to climate change in a coordinated manner across all food systems, to ensure that opportunities are maximized and negative impacts reduced and to secure food and livelihoods. “Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which to build our fisheries sector,” he added.
Observing that aquaculture should be streamlined through a set of regulations, codes of practices for various sub-sectors with suitable penal provisions for the violation, the Vice President said that there was a need to focus on reducing losses and value addition and supplementing the ever-increasing need for fish through modern aquaculture technologies and diversification of the products.
Opining that aquaculture and other allied sectors such as horticulture help in mitigating the financial distress on farmers dependent on agriculture income, the Vice President said aquaculture has huge potential as it helps in socio-economic development in terms of income and employment. He said that it acts as a vehicle for rural development, food and nutritional security for the rural masses.
Stating that aquaculture in India was practised with the utilisation of low to moderate levels of inputs such as fertilizers and feed, opined that it was a matter of great concern that India was able to exploit only a fraction of the aquaculture potential that was available to it.
Pointing out that India utilizes only about 40% of the available ponds, tanks and other water bodies for freshwater aquaculture and about 15% of the total potential of brackish water resources, the Vice President said that there was room for tremendous horizontal and vertical expansion of these sectors.
He called for efforts to harbour immense potential India’s long coastline for the development of mariculture which has taken roots only in recent years with the culture of mussels and oysters.
Calling for the promotion, regulation and monitoring of responsible fishing practices, through robust fisheries management and governance frameworks, the Vice President wanted authorities to ensure that the economic benefits from both capture fisheries and aquaculture reach the primary producers, i.e. the fishers and fish farmers.
The Vice President wanted special attention towards initiatives that could improve the economic condition of farmers. He said that there was every need to reduce the role of middlemen, provide crop insurance, enhance access to credit, develop cold chains and good upcountry market linkages, provide infrastructure for post-harvest storage, handling and value addition.
He urged the scientific community and researchers in marine life to provide technological support and strive to take this knowledge to the common people, fish farmers and primary producers.