Blue revolution: West Bengal eyes fishery as sunrise sector

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Published: January 10, 2017 12:36:46 PM

West Bengal has categorized fisheries sector as a sunrise sector providing investment opportunities in areas of fish production, fish exports, fish processing and fish tourism.

fisheries sector, West Bengal, fish production, fish exports, fish processing, ational Fisheries Development BoardWest Bengal has categorized fisheries sector as a sunrise sector providing investment opportunities in areas of fish production, fish exports, fish processing and fish tourism. (Source: Reuters)

West Bengal has categorized fisheries sector as a sunrise sector providing investment opportunities in areas of fish production, fish exports, fish processing and fish tourism. While the state wants to give a major boost in fish production to unleash the target of the National Fisheries Development Board of increasing productivity by 8% annually to touch 15 million tones of production by 2020, it wants to tap a considerable portion of the Rs 3,000 crore umbrella scheme, which seeks to bring about blue revolution and integrated development and management of fisheries.

Soumyajit Das, director, West Bengal State Fisheries Board, said the state has send a Rs 250 crore first phase proposal, which comprise Rs 100 crore de-siltation, Rs 50 crore seed culture and Rs 100 crore processing.  But as a part of integrated development and management of fisheries, the state along with development of pisiculture have taken steps in creation of infrastructural facilities like construction of rural roads, housing, rural electrification, tube wells community halls and auditorium in both inland and marine fishing villages.

The state has carved out 810 large water bodies for fisheries, for which Rs 23 crore have been spent on providing fish food.  The government will create an integrated fisheries zone, develop fishery estates, develop Sunderbans and Digha as special fishery zones, promote farming of large fish and provide land and associated legal documents to homeless fishermen as a part of integrated development and management of fisheries.

According to Chandranath Sinha, state’s minister for fisheries, the government has framed West Bengal Fisheries Investment Policy -2015 for micro, small, medium & large enterprises in fisheries sector, which focuses on extending fiscal incentives for setting up of new micro, small, medium and large enterprises. “This will propel the growth of the sector as a whole and encourage the development of these enterprises even in the least developed areas of the state,” Sinha said.

He said since West Bengal accounted for 20% of the country’s total fish production at 16.71 lakh metric tonne in 2016 and total exports of marine products was $ 530.91 million implying 11.33% of the total marine products exports worth $ 4687.94 million from India in 2016, we can consider enhancing both production, processing and exports to fetch more revenue for the state.  “We are working closely with the National Fisheries Board to this end,” Sinha said adding that the state has tied up with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to attract investment in fisheries sector and promote it as a sunrise sector. Both ICC and the state government have joined hands in organizing Bengal Fish Fest, an initiative to attract investment in the state fishery sector.

However, such fest should go beyond the boundaries of Bengal and even beyond the boundaries of India for promoting it as a sunrise sector, felt a fishery department official.

ICC president Aditya Agarwal said if investments were to be attracted there could be certain initiatives from the government’s part including defined timelines with regard to all clearances and labour dispute resolution mechanism that would create a more conducive business environment. The government could lease out water bodies on a private- public –partnership mode to encourage joint ventures with the private sector in the entire value chain of the fisheries industry in areas of infrastructure, research and international marketing. Moreover skill development programmes on a large scale could be established that would enhance the quality of human resources in the sector and bolster investment.

Das said West Bengal was poised to produce more than 18 lakh metric tonne fish in FY 17 of which 75% was fresh water and 25% brackish water. Although crab, shrimp and fresh water prawn exports were on the rise, Vietnam was emerging as a close competitor to India especially in the area of tiger prawn. Although India was a major importer of Hilsa from Bangladesh, Bangladesh was emerging as a new export market for India besides the conventional markets of Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, UAE and parts of Europe.

The state will have to work on market intervention scheme for identifying new markets. Fish tourism could be promulgated on a large scale to invite private companies for investment, Agarwal said.

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