Fisheries science

Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of limnology, oceanography, freshwater biology, marine biology, conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated picture of fisheries. Fisheries include rearing, catching, selling, etc. of fish, molluscs (shell fish) and crustaceans (Fresh water prawn- Palaemon, Crabs, etc.). Since long time, animals like bees and silk¬worm, have been used by humans.

Aquaculture in India has a long history, with references to fish culture in Kautilya's Arthashastra (321–300 B.C.) and King Someswara's Manasoltara (1127 A.D.). The traditional practice of fish culture in small ponds in eastern India is known to have existed for hundreds of years; significant advances were made in the State of West Bengal in the early nineteenth century with the controlled breeding of carp in bundhs (tanks or impoundments where riverine conditions are simulated). Fish culture received notable attention in the state of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras) as early as 1911, and subsequently, states such as Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Mysore and Hyderabad initiated fish culture through the establishment of Fisheries Departments and support to fishers and farmers for expansion of the sector.

Fisheries sector play an important role in the socio-economic development of farmers in the country. The sector has been recognized as a powerful income and employment generator as it stimulates growth of a number of subsidiary industries, and is a source of cheap and nutritious food besides being a foreign exchange earner. Most importantly, it is the source of livelihood for a large section of economically backward population of the country. The main challenges facing fisheries development in the country includes accurate data on assessment of fishery resources and their potential in terms of fish production, development of sustainable technologies for fin and shell fish culture, yield optimization, harvest and post-harvest operations, landing and berthing facilities for fishing vessels and welfare of fishermen.

Fisheries in India is a very important economic activity and a flourishing sector with varied resources and potentials. Only after the Indian Independence, has fisheries together with agriculture been recognized as an important sector. The vibrancy of the sector can be visualized by the 11–fold increase that India achieved in fish production in just six decades, i.e. from 0.75 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 9.6 million tonnes during 2012–13. This resulted in an unparalleled average annual growth rate of over 4.5 percent over the years which has placed the country on the forefront of global fish production, only after China. Besides meeting the domestic needs, the dependence of over 14.5 million people on fisheries activities for their livelihood and foreign exchange earnings to the tune of US$ 3.51 billion (2012–13) from fish and fisheries products, amply justifies the importance of the sector on the country's economy and in livelihood security.

India is also an important country that produces fish through aquaculture in the world. India is home to more than 10 percent of the global fish diversity. There has been significant growth in fish production during recent years. India is now the third largest producer of fish and second largest producer of fresh water fish in the world.

In India, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi through its Fisheries Science Division coordinates and monitor the research and academic programmes in fisheries and aquaculture of five resource specific fisheries research institutes viz., ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), ICAR-Central Institute of Brackish water Aquaculture (CIBA); a Deemed University, ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE); a bureau, ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR) and a directorate, ICAR-Directorate of Coldwater Fisheries Research (DCFR) which are also supported by a wide network of their Regional/Research/ Field centres.

The efforts are being made for enhancing fish production and productivity through optimum and sustainable utilization of resources with due emphasis on conservation of fish resources in the country to realize the full production potential from the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and to address the critical research gaps.


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