Gujarat, Andaman & Nicobar Islands among thrust areas for fisheries

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Kochi, Oct 1 (UNI) Identifying Orissa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as the ''thrust areas'' to expand the fisheries sector, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jairam Ramesh today said these areas will be brought on the marine products map of the country.

Delivering the inaugural address at the launch of the 'Network for Fish Quality Management and Sustainable Fishing' (NETFISH) by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) here, the minister said a perspective plan for development of tuna fishing in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be made public next month.

Stating that the islands had been identified as a ''thrust area'' for tuna fishing, he said that a stakeholders meet would be held at Port Blair soon. There was a great opportunity for India to enter the tuna market, he added.

Similarly, Gujarat had been identified as ideal for brackish water aqua culture, he said.

While Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh had dominated the fisheries sector so far, it was time to expand the sector to new areas. Similarly, the basket of marine export products should be diversified from shrimp, which currently accounts for 50 per cent of the exports, he said.

Earlier, in his welcome address, MPEDA Chairman G Mohan Kumar said the organisation felt the need to float 'NETFISH' to reach out to fisherfolk on issues of quality and sustainability through a network of voluntary organisations and welfare societies.

He said 'NETFISH' would be headquartered at Kochi with state coordinators in all states. State coordinators and participant voluntary organisations had been identified in all the states except Maharashtra. The organisation aimed to hold 1,000 training programmes all over the country this year, he said.

President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) Abraham J Tharakan said aquaculture and cage culture should be taken up in a big way to address the problem of sustainability in the marine sector.

Chief Executive of the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS) V Vivekanandan stressed the need to combine equity with sustainability. He alleged that it was the large exporters and trawlers which were responsible for ''unsustainable fishing''. Also, ''anarchic'' shrimp aquaculture on the East coast had added to the problem, he said.

UNI

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