In its efforts to curb over exploitation of food fish resources, the Marine Products Export Development Authority has decided to come out with a moratorium on the registration of new fish meal and fish oil units with effect from January 1, 2020.
It was also decided to extend the moratorium on enhancement of production capacity by existing fish meal units.
Fish meal and fish oil are the major ingredients for aquatic feed manufacturing and aquaculture utilises about 45 per cent of global fish meal production.
K S Srinivas, Chairman, MPEDA told BusinessLine that the unabated juvenile fishing especially for fish meal and fish oil production has become a major concern. This has resulted in stagnating catches of commercially important species and risk the depletion of the food fish resources from the marine capture sector. It has also posed a danger to the livelihood of fishermen and the availability of human protein source from sea catch.
“Hence, it has become the need of the hour to take effective measures towards sustainable development of fisheries and to curtail activities that directly or indirectly promote over exploitation of marine fishery resources,“ he said.
Senior officials in MPEDA pointed out that increased demand for aquaculture feed mills with the exponential increase in Vannamei shrimp production has propelled mushrooming of fish meal and fish oil factories in India over a decade. The paucity of sea catch in required sizes and quantities also affected the economic viability of the processing units and handling centres that primarily depend on marine fishery resources. The stakeholders and researchers across the seafood sector have voiced their concern over the non judicious exploitation of food fishes for aqua feed, the officials added.
Welcoming the move, Dawood Sait, National Secretary of the Fish Meal Producers Association, said imposing a moratorium will help achieve the objective of sustainable fishing and curb juvenile fishing. However, Mpeda should convene a stakeholders meeting before imposing restrictions, as new small fishmeal producers have already made investments in land and machinery to set up units by availing loans. These units have to be kept out of the purview of the moratorium, he added.
Fishmeal is processed from fish and fish varieties unfit for human consumption, excess left over after meeting human consumption and also from offals from fish processing units. There are about 56 fishmeal industrial units in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The units together have a turnover of ?1,750 crore with an annual production of 2.50 lakh tonnes, of which ?650 crore comes from exports.