CMFRI drafts an Indian Marine Fisheries Code

The global marine capture fisheries started experiencing stress during eighties and the catches have since then hovered just above 100 million tonnes, with no sign of imporvement. The food and agricultural Oragnisation sensed the need for a global initiative for sustainable fishing practices that could be put in place with the active participation of the fishing nations. As an important step in this direction, the FAO brought out a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries(FAO-CCRF) in 1995. The Code set the overall frame work and guidance for fishery development that could be adopted by all fishing nations of the world.

Like any soft law, the adoption of the CCRF was voluntary and therefore the response was not encouraging for several years.Formore than a decade the code, with its 12 main articles and 221 sub articles, remained only to be often quoted int he rhetoric of fisheries development. However, some countries like the USA, Cambodia, Philippines and Australia attempted to adopt the code by adapting the relevant principles and messages as appropriate to their countries.

Though CCRF figured often in the fisheries developemtn literature in India too, it was not adopted and implemented in the country. The only known initiative from India in this regard was the annual training on CCRF (it the only one of its kind in the world) conducted by th eBay of Bega Programme-Inter-Government Organisation(BOBP-IGO), Chennai for the member countries.

On the other hand, Indian marine fisheries sector has been searching for a definite management paradigm and institutional mechanism to tansform the sector form chaosto order. There was no structural modifications suggested by any agency to effect the desired paradigm shift. Rather, many stakeholders seeed to be comfortable in the situation of disorder, resorting ot ad-hoc solutions rather than seeking long-term ones.

Being aware of these lacunae, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute(CMFRI) initiated the developement of the Indian Marine Fishereis Code in 2015 by formng a committee comprising of experts from CMFRI and CIFT. The Committee invested singificant time to discuss and devlop an Indian Marine Fisheries Code to discuss and develop an Indian Marine Fisheries Code during eight sittings of 1-3 days duration spread over a year.

A unique feature of the Indian Code is that it emulated CCRF in its original form, working on it article by article on how it could be implemented and which agencies would be responsbile for its implementation and on what standards. Thus the comprehensive nature of the FAO-CCRF is retained in the Indian Marine Fisheries Code.

Another important feature of the Indian Marine Fisheries Code is that mooted a definite fisheries management paradigm as a prerequisite for implementing the Indian Code. This is a council based fisheries management system which relies on an advanced participatory management mode. The committee also suggested the establishment of new institutions to cater to the various functions under the new council based system.
The most important entity in the council based system is the National Marine Fisheries Management Council(NMFMC) which is the apex body. The national body branches into regional, state, district and village level councils , for ensuring a democratic system of decision making.

Another agency proposed by the Indian Code is the National Aquatic Products Council(NAPC) which would look after the various aspects of production and quality of aquatic products. The NAPC would also work through regional, state and district level councils focussing primarily on the food safety standards.

The third agency suggested is the Aquacutlure Authority of India( AAI) which could be an extension of the present Coastal Aquaculture Authority(CAA) The idea is to bring all aquaculture activities under a single umbrella, enhance effective coordination and also ensure synergy in efforts of regulation, conservation and management.

Since the institute wishes to incorporate all possible modifications in the final document, readers and stakeholders are requested to go through the draft document and provide comments and suggestions. The draft is available on the website of CMFRI and a questionnaire seeking response in a prescribed format.


Source: Fishing Chimmes

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