Post harvest fish wastage leads to annual losses worth over Rs 15,000 crore in India's marine and inland fisheries sector, according to an analysis by industry body Assocham.
"The poor post-harvest fish handling infrastructure in major maritime states in India leads to wastage of about 25 per cent of the total fisheries resources," according to a sector-specific analysis by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
Besides, fish stocks in India's territorial deep-sea waters also remain untapped owing to the dearth of suitable fishing vessels.
It said traditional fishing communities are over-exploiting the coastal waters which is leading to fast depletion of maritime resources and shrinking of the catch from the coastal zones, it said.
Post-harvest losses are generally caused due to poor handling, processing of fish leading to quality deterioration arising out of biochemical and microbiological spoilage, inadequate packaging, marketing malpractices and lack of proper storage facilities.
"These losses result in potential income loss to fishermen community and all the stakeholders, traders and processors, involved in fishing related ancillary operations as the spoiled, physically damaged fish fetches 20-25 per cent lower price compared to the best quality catch," said D S Rawat, secretary general of Assocham on the study.
He said value-added fishery products should be encouraged to realise better returns for producers.
Besides, there is also a need to develop top-notch harbor and storage facilities for development of marine products in the country, it said.
Sustainable practices like eco-friendly fisheries management must be adopted in capture, cultivation, utilisation and marketing of marine products, Assocham said adding there is also a need to bring in regulations to keep a check on over- exploitation of fisheries resources.
Assocham, in its suggestion to the government, has called for modernising existing harbours and establishing more cold storage facilities and factory vessels to aid the fish and marine industry which is worth over Rs 61,000 crore.
Besides, there is a need to improve methods of fish handling and preservation facilities on board fishing vessels through joint ventures for production and marketing of value-added fish products, it said.