Wholesale fish prices rose 131% during the past five years as India's growing appetite for fish owing to rising per-capita incomes, urbanisation and ever-evolving eating patterns is fast leading to depletion and over-exploitation of fish stocks in the country, The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said.
While the index value of fish was just over 126 during 2008-09, it rose past 291 as of 2012-13 due to a combination of factors like falling fish catch owing to rising water pollution, dumping of plastic and other harmful materials, absence of organized retail in fish trade, persistence of age-old distribution system, post-harvest losses, rising operating costs due to unabated diesel price rise and other such reasons resulting in high wastage and spoilage of fisheries resources, according to a sector-specific analysis of fish prices conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Wholesale inland fish prices rose by a whopping 200% and marine fish prices rose by about 91% during the aforesaid period, said Mr D.S. Rawat, national secretary general of ASSOCHAM while releasing the chamber’s analysis.
Rising fish prices have made the business financially unviable for fishing communities and all the stakeholders, traders, processors and others involved in fishing related ancillary operations,” said Mr Rawat. “Growing urbanization and advent of supermarkets has lead to growth in fish consumption across India but the lack of poor post-harvesting equipment, inadequate food processing technology and storage facilities is bleeding the fishing industry and thereby significantly hampering its growth prospects.”
Besides, India's traditional fishing communities are over-exploiting coastal waters thereby leading to fast depletion of marine resources and shrinking catch from coastal regions.
In its analysis, ASSOCHAM has also highlighted that due to severe death of suitable fishing vessels fish stocks in India’s territorial deep-sea waters remain untapped leading to potential income loss to fishing communities and other stakeholders.
A lack of proper post-harvest fish handling infrastructure in India leads to wastage of about 25% of total fisheries resources thereby causing a staggering Rs 15,000 crore annual losses, according to ASSOCHAM.
ASSOCHAM has advocated for carrying out eco-friendly and sustainable practices of fisheries resources, establish cold storage facilities and there is also the need to bring in regulations to curb over-exploitation in marine habitat.