New Delhi: India’s annual fisheries resources survey for 2020 is unlikely to be completed this year as nearly all the vessels of the Fishery Survey of India (FSI), the body which conducts the survey, remain under repairs at dry docks due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The survey and assessment of fishery resources in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone and adjoining areas is done to promote the use of marine fisheries resources along the Indian coast. This is the primary responsibility of FSI, India’s nodal fisheries institute.
As many as 11 out of 12 vessels of the FSI fleet have been in dry docks for months as repairs were suspended due to the lockdown, said an official in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
The FSI is also short on funds to replace its ageing fleet, which has vessels as old as 40 years, leading to frequent repairs and mounting expenses.
“Vessels from survey fleets of FSI are deployed from six operational bases in Mumbai, Mormugao, Cochin, Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Port Blair but some of the vessels like Matsya Nireekshani, Matsya Varshini, Matsya Shikari and Matsya Darshini are more than 40 years old,” said the official.
The official said these vessels are subjected to frequent repairing. The total expenditure incurred on maintenance of the fleet stood at Rs 36.15 crore for last year.
“Around four vessels were kept in dry-docking last year due to lack of funds, which has increased to 11 out of total 12 vessels this year as the repair parts were not available due to lockdown and we cannot pay the higher price of few parts available due to shortage of budget,” said the official.
“This lack of funds to get the vessels repaired in time, let alone replacing the ageing fleet, has delayed the annual fisheries survey this year. Earlier also, the publication of the FSI related to fisheries resources availability was also delayed due to this,” added the official.
Since 2019, FSI’s resources information series, which is a quarterly publication, has not been updated for its six operational bases across the country other than Visakhapatnam.
This publication is aimed at meeting the requirements of the fishing industry and other end users, with special reference to fisheries resources information collected via exploratory surveys.
The extended period of the repair of vessels of FSI has also led to a decline in the revenue generation for the department of fisheries. Its revenue from the disposal of fishes caught in its survey and assessment process declined from Rs 80.20 lakh in 2018-19 to Rs 55.70 lakh in 2019-20.
While presenting the 2020-21 Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government aims to raise India’s fishery exports to Rs 1 lakh crore by 2024-25. In 2018-19, this figure stood at Rs 47,620 crore.