India and its highly promising seafood industry needed an organisation to spearhead the market promotion of Indian seafood products abroad and to tap the enormous fishery potential of India. This need has led to the formation of the Marine Products Export Promotion Council (MPEPC) by the Government of India in September 1961. MPEPC played the role of promoting and developing export of marine products and subsequently seafood export promotion has become an integral part of policy frame works of the Government of India. The port of Cochin, which handled about 60% of seafood exports in those days made Cochin the ideal home for the MPEPC to set up its base.
After its formation, MPEPC studied and comprehended the India’s marine exports sector that convinced the Government to implement policies for the advancement of marine products trade. In the early 70s, a study conducted by MPEPC found that only 25% of the total freezing capacity and 13% of the canning capacity were being utilized. Immediately thereafter Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) conducted a survey on ‘India’s Export Potential of Marine Products’, under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and USAID (Export Promotion Division). Both the studies, directly and indirectly pointed to the need for creating a strong organisation capable of catering to the all round development of the seafood industry including production, processing, export and marketing. Based on the studies Government of India established The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) on 20th April 1972 by an Act of the Parliament. The MPEPC subsequently went into voluntary liquidation and all the staff members got absorbed into the MPEDA on 24th August 1972.
MPEDA was given the mandate to promote the export of seafood from the country. It was also envisaged that this organisation would take all actions to develop and augment the resources required for promoting the exports of “all varieties of fishery products known commercially as shrimp, prawn, lobster, crab, fish, shell-fish, other aquatic animals or plants or part thereof and any other products which the authority may, by notification in the Gazette of India, declare to be marine products for the purposes of (the) Act”. The Act also empowered MPEDA to take all measures required for ensuring sustained, quality seafood exports from the country. Anticipating increased raw material requirements, the Act has given MPEDA the responsibility of not only developing deep sea fishing but also aquaculture. MPEDA was also given the authority to prescribe for itself any matters which the future might require for protecting and augmenting the seafood exports from the country. It was also empowered to carry out inspection of marine products, its raw material, fixing standards and specifications, training, regulating as well as take all necessary steps for marketing the seafood overseas.
In a nutshell MPEDA was to work for the holistic development of seafood industry in India to realise its full export potential as a nodal agency. Based on the recommendations of MPEDA, Government of India notified new standards for fishing vessels, storage premises, processing plants and conveyances. MPEDA’s focus is primarily on five areas namely Capture Fisheries, Aquaculture, Processing Infrastructure & Value Addition, Quality Control & Market Promotion.
A glance at the roles and responsibilities of MPEDA
- Registration of infrastructural facilities for seafood export trade.
- Collection and dissemination of trade information.
- Promotion of Indian marine products in overseas markets.
- Implementation of schemes vital to the industry by extending assistance for infrastructure development for better preservation and modernised processing following quality regime.
- Promotion of aquaculture for augmenting export production through hatchery development, new farm development, diversification of species and up gradation of technology.
- Promotion of deep-sea fishing projects through test fishing, joint ventures and up gradation & installation of equipments to increase the efficiency of fishing.
- Market promotional activities and publicity.
- To carry out inspection of marine products, its raw material, fixing standards and specifications, training, regulating as well as to take all necessary steps for maintaining the quality of seafood that are marketed overseas.
- Impart trainings to fishermen, fish processing workers, aquaculture farmers and other stake holders in the respective fields related to fisheries.
- Conduct research and development for the aquaculture of aquatic species having export potential through Rajiv Gandhi Center for Aquaculture (RGCA).
- Conduct extension and awareness activities, trainings etc through Network for Fish Quality Management and Sustainable Fishing (NETFISH) & National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture (NaCSA).
- To prescribe for itself any matters required for protecting and augmenting the seafood exports from the country in the future.
Structure of MPEDA
MPEDA functions under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India and acts as a coordinating agency with different Central and State Government establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities. The functions of MPEDA are guided by an Authority and three Standing Committees of MPEDA Viz, Executive Committee, Technical Committee and Export Promotion Committee. The MPEDA’s activities are implemented through the plan schemes of the Authority under six major heads viz, Market Promotion, Capture Fisheries, Culture Fisheries, Processing infrastructure & value addition, Quality control and Research and development.