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Overfishing in the FMPO industry, killing India's marine ecosystem

05:00 PM Feb 01, 2023 IST | nayanikaphukan
overfishing in the fmpo industry  killing india s marine ecosystem

FMPO Industry: Fishing is a common livelihood in India and is a major sector within the economy contributing 1.07% of its total GDP. The fishing sector in India supports the livelihood of almost 28 million people. According to the National Fisheries Development Board, in India more than 50 different types of fish. And, the shellfish products are being exported to 75 countries around the world. India is also the world’s second-biggest exporter of prawns. 

Overfishing in the FMPO industry, killing India
Ribbonfish overfishing, Malvan, Maharashtra | Courtesy: PoojaRathod/Wikimedia Commons

FMFO industry

The fish meal and fish oil (FMFO) industry has been known to pose a threat to India’s fishing sector. The abundance of sardines in southwestern India has resulted in the establishment of many FMFO processing plants along the coast. Because it bought the trash fish that was brought in with the catch, the FMFO industry was regarded as a refuge by fishermen. However, the situation has changed because unsustainable fishing is being encouraged by the FMFO industries. This now threats the fishing industry. The FMFOs are currently the only reliable source of income for trawlers. More and more trawlers are scouring the ocean floor to meet the industry’s growing demand. This practice is causing fishing in Indian waters to become unsustainable due to dwindling fish stocks and severe weather.


Read more: The FMFO industry: Trawling for trouble – The Hindu BusinessLine

Paradip port, fish drying on the boats
Paradip port, fish drying on the boats | Courtesy: Lydia O’Meara and Baishnaba Ratha

A report called ‘Fishing for Catastrophe’ revealed that in India, fishing for FMFO to supply the global aquaculture industry is accelerating the collapse of local fish stocks. Furthermore, it is driving illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing where fish stocks are already depleted plundering the oceans for juvenile fish, fish eggs, and other species that were previously disregarded and wreaking environmental damage around production sites.


Read more: Fishing for Catastrophe | Changing Markets

WTO Fisheries subsidies

Recently agreement on Fisheries subsidies was concluded at the World Trade Organisation in 2022. The agreement would prohibit subsidies from being provided for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and overfished stocks. Despite being the largest population, India has one of the lowest fisheries subsidies. The agreement will eliminate the subsidies granted to fishing vessels or fishing operators engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Such disciplining will check large-scale Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing which deprives coastal countries like India of fisheries resources. Thereby, significantly impacting the livelihoods of our fishing communities.


Read more: The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (Agreement) at the WTO Ministerial meeting to prohibit subsidies from being provided for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and overfished stocks

Some initiatives to improve the state of the fishing industry include the development of fishing harbors, seaweed parks, and Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana which strives to create employment for lakhs of fishers and fish farmers. Furthermore, aim to double the income of these workers by 2024. These initiatives will hopefully reduce the dependence on the FMFO industry which has led to unsustainable fishing practices in India.


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