Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development in NE region
- Part 1 -

Prof Ratan Kumar Saha *

Globally, fisheries and aquaculture contribute a significant role in rural development through food and nutritional security, poverty alleviation, economic development, employment, and livelihood support among rural people. Aquaculture contributes more than 45 per cent of global fish food consumption and is the fastest growing food producing sector.

The annual growth rate for aquaculture is 8-10 per cent compared to 3 per cent for livestock and 1.6 per cent for capture fisheries. Hand in hand, the global trade in fish and fishery products is expanding day-by-day.

Further, aquaculture is a very fast-growing sector among the agriculture and highly diverse in terms of species (230spp.) cultured, culture systems; culture environment; type of operation and scale; the intensity of practice; and type of management.

Indian fisheries sector has made a significant contribution during the last six decades showing twelve-fold increases, from 0.75 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 10.79 million tonnes in 2015-16.

Carps constitute the significant dominant group of fishes in the domestic market accounting for about 85% of total freshwater aquaculture production of the country for which India is called as a "Carp country". India's North East Region (NER) is endowed with huge untapped biodiversity and natural resources.

The region comprises eight landlocked states (7 sisters & 1 brother)- Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, and Sikkim. The region has international borders with Bhutan, China, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. The states are located between latitude 10 57" and 290 30" N and longitude 890 46" and 970 30" E. The NER of India covers an area of 2.62 lakh aq. Km, the states are home to only 4% of the country's population, while Assam accounts for 68% of the population.

Manipur ("land of jewel"), one of the eight sisters of the NEH Region of India, is an isolated hill-girt state stretching between 920 58' E to 940 45' longitudes and 23050'N to 25042'N latitudes.

The state is bounded on the north by the state of Nagaland, on the east by upper Myanmar (Burma), on the south by Mizoram and the west by Cachar District of Assam. Topographically, the state has three natural regions the hills, the valley, and the Barak Basin. The growth in StateDomestic Product of Manipur is largely dependent on agricultural productions.

However, the fishery sector is considered an important economic activity in the socio-economic context in Manipur among the eight north-eastern states after Assam and Tripura.

It is blessed with only freshwater bodies covering about 56,461.05 ha in the form of rivers & streams, beels & swamps (seasonal and perennial derelict water bodies), lakes, reservoirs & canals, ponds & tanks, and low-lying paddy field etc. having a greater potentiality.

So far, 18,600 ha of the water areas have been brought under fish culture operation by the end of 2010-11 and there is a lot of scope for further expansion also. Manipur obtains more protein from the fishery products than red meat. Extensive aquaculture has been in practice in the State for the past several years.

Although the people are generally vegetarians, eating fish is allowed. No social function or ceremony is held without fish. Fish is the main food item of the majority of the people in the State, particularly the Meiteis who are mainly concentrate in the valley.

But, the production of fish is only 31.99 thousand tonnes during 2015-16 against an annual demand of 40.81 thousand tonnes which is calculated on the basis of nutritional requirement of 13 kg per capita per annum as recommended by WHO and considering 95% of the state's population is fish eaters. The gap between present production and estimated requirement (8.82 thousand tonnes) is partially met by importing fish from other states.

1. Constraints to Development of fishery & Aquaculture Sector in Manipur

There are several constraints to the development of the fishery sector in Manipur. These are categorized as 'support system constraints', 'infrastructural constrains', 'financial and technical constraint', 'societal constraints', and 'extension constraints'.

However, some of the major constraints are as follows:

o The inflow of organo-chlorine pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in the agriculture practice in and around the lakes, rivers, ponds, beels, etc. has resulted in the decline of natural stocks of several species of fish.

o Overexploitation and indiscriminate fishing are also the causes of poor fish production.

o The fast growth of aquatic weeds like water hyacinth and other weeds in most of the water bodies and heavy siltation year after year have destroyed the ecology and affected fish production to a great extent.

o Poisoning and poaching, a common problem faced by the farmers.

o Lack of good quality fish seeds (fry/fingerlings) of required size and number at the time of stocking.

o The high cost of inputs like feed, fertilizer and fisheries resources.

o The weak multi-disciplinary approach in fisheries and aquaculture.

o Inadequate attention to the environmental, economic, social and gender issues in fisheries and aquaculture.

o Inadequate HRD and specialized manpower in different disciplines.

o Weak linkages between research and development machinery as well as weak marketing and extension network.

o Poor technology transfer and anthropogenic interventions resulting in loss of biodiversity and the decline in fish catch.

o Age old techniques of production.

o Clandestine introduction and spread of exotic fish species.

o Lack of proper facilities to tackle the issues related to aquatic animal health problems.

o Contamination of indigenous fish germplasm resources, and so on.

2. 'SMART' Interventions for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in Manipur

2.1 What 'SMART' Interventions?

Interventions should be smart enough to address the issues for doubling the farmers' income by 2022 as well as overall sustainable development and self-sufficiency of the sector. 'SMART' means, S= Specific, M= Measurable, A= Attainable/Achievable, R= Relevant, and T= Timely which are explained below:


o Define the goal as much as possible with no nuclear language
o WHO is involved, WHAT do I want to accomplish, WHERE will it be done, WHY am I doing this reasons, purpose, WHICH constraints and /or requirements do I have?


o Can you track the progress and measure the outcome?
o How much, how many, how will I know, when my goal is accomplished?


o Is the goal reasonable enough to be accomplished? How so?
o Make sure the goal is not out or reach or below standard performance.


o Is the goal worthwhile and will it meet your needs?
o Is each goal consistent with the other goals you have established and fits with your immediate and long-term plans?


o Your objective should include a time limit. Ex: I will complete this step by month/day/year.
o I will establish a sense of urgency and prompt you to have better time management.

2.2 Strategic 'Smart Interventions'

As fish forms one of the essential food items of the majority of the people in the state, it is the responsibility of the state Govt. to meet the demand of the fish.

So, for achieving the estimated requirement, it has become inevitable to develop and expand the culture activities properly in all the available fishery resources and to ensure effective exploitation with proper monitoring. Further, geophysical conditions limit the horizontal expansion of cultivable land and water bodies.

Therefore, this is only possible through the formulation of the following short, medium and long-term strategic smart interventions for overall development in the present fisheries and aqua-culture scenario of the State:

To be continued...

For further details contact:-
Public Relations& Media Management Cell,
CAU, Imphal.

* Prof Ratan Kumar Saha wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Dean, College of Fisheries, CAU, Lembucherra, Tripura Central Agricultural University, Imphal, Manipur
This article was webcasted on May 21 2022.

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