India’s resurgent seafood industry got a major impetus with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman announcing a raft of measures, including setting up of agencies for aquaculture and fisheries in all coastal states and export incentives for marine products under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS), at a high-profile international seafood conference in Visakhapatnam.
Under the MEIS, the government currently allocates Rs 22,000 crore annually for exports. “From this financial year onwards, an additional Rs 1500 crore will be allocated under the scheme that will include certain marine and seafood items,” Mrs Sitharaman said at the 20th edition of the three-day India International Seafood Show (IISS), which began here this morning at the Port Trust Diamond Jubilee Stadium.
The agencies for aquaculture and fisheries, under the guidance of the chief ministers and headed by their chief secretaries, will be under the aegis of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), the nodal body for marine exports under the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry.
Voicing concern, she said that despite being a major producer, India’s seafood industry has a long way to go in fully tapping the potential for value addition. “I held discussions with trade ministers from Japan and South Korea recently and they have expressed interest in collaborating with India for development of aquaculture,” she added.
Mrs Sitharman hoped that the MPEDA would play a key role in bringing in the best industry practices from around the globe to accelerate the growth of the seafood industry.
Expressing his government’s determination to make Andhra Pradesh the ‘Aquaculture Hub’ not only of India but also of the world, Mr N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of AP said the state accounted for over 45 per cent of India’s cultured shrimp exports during 2015-16. “We expect to touch a target of 70 per cent over the next few years,” he added.
Stressing the need for controlling diseases in farmed shrimps, Mr Naidu said his government has set up a Task Force to set up state of the art laboratories in this regard.
The IISS, with ‘Safe and Sustainable Indian Aquaculture’ as the central theme of the event, has been organised jointly by MPEDA, under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, and Seafood Exporters’