Globally, fish provides 3 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein (FAO, 2014). Fishing as an industry contributes US$500 billion per year to the global economy as the most highly traded food commodity in the world (Smith et al., 2010), while an estimated 120 million people are employed in the fisheries sector globally (World Bank, 2012).
India contributes about 6.3% of global fish production. With a coastline of over 8000km and an EEZ that stretches over 2million km2, it is the 7th largest marine capture seafood-producing country in the world. The fishing sector contributes 1.1% to the country’s GDP and the marine fishery potential of the Indian EEZ is estimated at 4.4million tonnes.
Recently, concern has surfaced on the need to manage resources for more sustainable levels of exploitation. Specific challenges to sustainability in the fisheries sector include open access fisheries, over-capitalisation, high discards of juveniles of important commercial species, low capacity for monitoring, benthic impact, and knowledge gap on sustainability status of many species.
In 2017 the government adopted a revision of the 2004 Marine Fisheries Policy following an extended period of consultation. The overarching goal of the policy is to ensure the health and ecological integrity of the marine living resources of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone through sustainable harvests for the benefit of present and future generations. The policy commits the government to creating an enabling environment to promote eco-labelling of key Indian fisheries for the benefit of fish stocks, the seafood industry and fishers.
The rapid development and growth of the seafood sector in India over the last couple of years is accompanied with challenges to continued sustainability of this growth amidst concerns about overfishing, depleted stocks, and illegal unreported unregulated fishing in the wild catch sector. In view of this a Workshop was Jointly hosted by CMFRI, WWF & MSC tiled “INDIAN FISHERIES TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY – Marine Stewardship Council Certification” on 5thApril 2018 in Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi, Kerala, Chaired by Director CMFRI. One of the key outcomes was the set up of a Consortium of “Likeminded people for sustainable seafood” in India to work as an apex advisory board at National level for fisheries working towards sustainability and certification.
During this workshop a Networking group was formed called as “Sustainable seafood network of India” (SSNI). All the attendees of the workshop unanimously apprised the urgent need for this network. All participants of the workshop agreed to be member of the is network which was accepted by the Chairman of the workshop (Director – CMFRI, Kochi).
The networking was conceived because of the realization of the limitations of the efforts of individual stakeholders in dealing with complex developmental issues. This network was planned to provide opportunity for individual stakeholder to interact with government at higher levels but also encourage member to interact, exchange information, dialogue, implement actions amongst themselves and with Government organizations, NGOs, Fishermen cooperatives, political parties.