Will new marine policy help India export seafood worth Rs one lakh crore over the next five years?

The National Policy on Marine Fisheries drafted at the start of the year emphasised the importance for kick-starting a blue revolution through sustainable fishing and optimum exploration of ocean wealth. Blue revolution the government felt deserved a big boost given India’s rich potential on sea and river front.

“India is on the brink of a ‘blue revolution’. Its unmatched sea and river front remained untapped ever since Independence. Now the time is ripe to exploit it and with the Narendra Modi government committed to develop it, we are going to do things that will be beyond imagination,” Union Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI in an interview on Mon, 18 Apr 2016.

Putting plans into action the centre has started rolling out initiatives to make blue revolution a reality. The centre has now set a new target for seafood exports in the next five years. The centre is now focused on increasing country’s export earnings from Rs 33,441 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,00,000 crore.

To achieve the same, the centre will soon release a new national policy on fisheries next month which will prove valuable in reaching the target by implementing an umbrella scheme for integrated development and management of fisheries. A scheme which will require the private sector to play a great role.

The new policy will be inclusive of development and management of inland fisheries, aquaculture, marine fisheries as well as deep sea fishing and all activities that fall under the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) to bring about the blue revolution.

“The new national 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”.

When quizzed on how the country will be able to reach this ambitious target, the official said that the ministry seeks to integrate all existing schemes in the fisheries sector to ensure that the focus remains on enhancing production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources, both inland and marine.

India’s fish production and exports have been growing steadily. Fish production has grown from 7.5 lakh tonnes in 1950-51 to 100.70 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 and earned the nation Rs 33,441 crores last year. That is 18% of what the agricultural sector earns from exports. India only comes second to China in the production of fish worldwide. The U.S. remains India’s top export market for seafood exports with a share of 26.46%.

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