The term Blue Revolution has gained significant importance in recent years. As with the green revolution, specific concern for use of water has amplified the need to examine how we protect both our freshwater reserves as well as our marine fish stocks.
By Dr Madhav Bhilave, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Zoology, Shivaji University, India
The Blue Revolution, similar to the green revolution, except it deals with aquaculture and water preservation for human use. In India, The Blue Revolution has been used for several years for fish production. In 1930's, India produced about 600,000 tonnes of fish and now due to Blue Revolution, it produces about 1.6 million tonnes of fish. It has assisted India to produce more fresh water fish. In 1960s, India made headlines with its Green Revolution, using high-yielding varieties and improved technology to more than double its output of wheat between 1965 and 1972. Today, India is pushing ahead with a Blue Revolution, the rapid increase of fish production in small ponds and water bodies, benifiting small farmers, the nation's nutrition and its gross domestic product.
"Fish culture is an art. We need to make it a science," said Dr VRP Sinha, the founding Director of the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA), India's largest centre of its kind and the source of science that has driven the growth of Indian inland aquaculture.
Fishing and aquaculture in India has a long history. Kautilya's Arthashastra (321–300 BC) and King Someswara's Manasoltara (1127 A.D.) refer to fish culture. For centuries, India has had a traditional practice of fish culture in small ponds in eastern India. Brackish water farming in India is also an age-old system.
After independence, the fisheries industry, witnessed a massive transformation from the traditional and subsistence type enterprise to a market-driven multi-crore industry equipped with essential infrastructures. During the past few decades fisheries production has increased manifold through successive stages, mainly due to the adoption of synthetic fibres in lieu of natural fibres in gear fabrication, introduction of mechanical trawlers, adoption of techniques like mass harvesting gear, mechanisation of indigenous crafts and the subsequent app1ication of innovative gears on a wide scale. Which has resulted in a substantial increase in fish production.
But today as a direct result of overfishing and poor fisheries management, fish stocks are now dwindling at an alarming rate. Most recent predictions have put all fish stocks at risk by 2040. Urgent attention must therefore now be given to the discovery and protection of new fishing grounds. Whilst aquaculture may still be a relatively recent western phenomenon, its success in providing a sustainable alternative to present fishing practices is proving critical to preserving water bodies from the devastation of over-fishing.
Kolhapur district is the southernmost district of Maharashtra. It’s headquarter is Kolhapur City which is an ancient city. The city is situated on the banks of river Panchganga and is known as 'Dakshin Kashi'. Kolhapur is seat of Goddess Mahalaxmi and is one of the Shaktipeeths mentioned in Indian mythology. Kolhapur was ruled by Silaharas, Yadavas, Rashtrakutas and Chalukyas in the medieval times.
The growth of district in modern times is fascinating. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja is an architect and founder of modern Kolhapur. The district is abundant in natural resources- water, soil, natural vegetation, animal wealth and minerals. As a result, Kolhapur is one of the most agriculturally advanced districts. It is fast becoming an industrialised district in agro-based industries. Kolhapur District is one of the shining examples in the Co-operative Movement of India. No doubt, the district has the highest per capita income in the Maharashtra State and one of the highest in the country.
The physical features of the Kolhapur district are of varied nature consisting of plains, plateaus and hill ranges. The Western Ghats which form the western boundary of the district has thrown several spurs in the eastern region. The high altitudes of these ranges and spurs with their copious rainfall, have given rise to a number of streams and small valleys. The six rivers of the district, namely, the Warna, Panchaganga, Dudhaganga, Wedganga, Hiranyakeshi and Ghataprabha, offer many sites suitable for dams and weirs. Due to construction of a series of weirs on the Panchaganga, which is formed by the confluence of five streams, the Tulsi, Kasari, Bhogawati, Brahmi, and Kumbhi, a considerable quantity of water is retained in the river, thereby affording suitable habitat for a large number of fish. Further, fishes from these tributaries migrate into the Panchaganga for shelter and forage. Besides, there are many natural lakes, irrigation tanks, reservoirs and perennial ponds, chief of which are Radhanagari reservoir, Rankala lake, Kagal tank, Atigra tank, Kalamba tank, Wadgaon tank, Rajaram tank and Talasanda tank, where piscicultural activities are being undertaken. With the implementation of several new irrigation development schemes, which have a direct or indirect bearing on fisheries, pisciculture is bound to gain more importance in Kolhapur. All these activities are heading towards blue revolution.
Fishermen of Kolhapur
There are no concentrated fishing villages in the Kolhapur district like those found in the coastal regions. The survey reveals that fishermen are scattered mostly on the banks of the rivers and their tributaries. As fishing does not provide full-time employment fishermen are obliged to work as field labourers and masons and engage in other business to support their families. Fishermen prefer to sell their catch in the local markets if the catch is large. Otherwise, fisherwomen and old men sell the fish from door to door. Although fish curing is not undertaken, considerable quantity of salted fish is imported into the district for local consumption from neighbouring coastal districts.
Law and regulations
The legislatures in India have the power to make laws and regulations with respect to many subjects including fisheries. At the Central level, Indian Fisheries Act (1897) (and now IFA, 1949), which penalizes the killing of fish by poisoning water and by using explosives; the Environment (Protection) Act (1986), being an umbrella act containing provisions for all environmental related issues affecting fisheries and aquaculture industry in India, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974) and the Wild Life Protection Act (1972) are the most important laws.
Present and future
There is a large untapped potential in fisheries and aquaculture, which can contribute considerably to improve the livelihoods as also women empowerment. The future development of aquaculture depends on adoption of new and innovative production technologies, management and utilization of less used water resources and proper market tie-ups. Reservoir fisheries offer a major opportunity to enhance fish production in the district. Diversification and high value products can add new dimensions to the sector. Proper post-harvest handling, reduction of losses and hygienic primary processing are important to realize the full potential of the sector. Simultaneously, effective marketing arrangements need to be made to ensure adequate returns to the fish farmers as also make available good quality fish at affordable prices to the consumers.
All depends on our judicious approach towards our natural resources.