India is the second largest fish producing nation in the world with a production of 107.61 lakh tonnes in 2015-16 and with 1.5 crore fish farmers and small entrepreneurs engaged in the business.
In a report presented to Parliament, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, chaired by BJP leader Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, noted that the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries had remained “mute” to state-specific action plans to harness the potential of the sector.
And this parliamentary panel has pulled up Ministry of Agriculture over the “policy paralysis” in developing inland fisheries and promotion of aquaculture.
The panel has urged the Narendra Modi government to formulate a National Inland Fishery Policy.
The committee rapped the department saying it should not just stop at issuing advisories to state governments but ensure that each state and Union territory comes up with a “need-based model” and action plans to develop the sector and provide scope for increasing entrepreneurship.
“This is a way of ensuring that entrepreneurs willing to indulge in the inland fisheries and aquaculture sector are not deterred by policy paralysis or lack of infrastructure and opportunities..,” the committee noted.
It is important to note ”Policy paralysis” was a phrase used by the BJP to attack the previous UPA government in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The committee “strongly recommended” that the government formulate a National Inland Fishery Policy for the development and upkeep of the inland fisheries sector in the country.
The committee also was “aggrieved” to note that fish farming was not covered under any insurance provided by the government and the lack of policy to provide relief to fish farmers during natural calamities.
It noted that despite contributions to the GDP and to the food basket, the fisheries sector was not treated at a par with agriculture.
The committee also asked the department to provide an insurance cover to fish farming as an activity and an insurance risk cover to fish farmers against natural calamities such as tsunamis and cyclones.