Marine fisheries along the southwest coast of India

Marine fisheries production in India has increased from 0.5 million t in 1950 to 2.47 million t in 1997. The gross value of fisheries landings in India was US$2.37 billion in 1997. The contribution of fisheries to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen from 0.7% in 1980 - 81 to 1.2% in 1994 - 95. The contribution to agricultural GDP has risen from 1.9% to 4%. Fisheries production also plays a critical role in food security and livelihood in rural areas. The southwest (SW) coast, while only 16% of the Indian coastline, is an important area for marine fisheries production, contributing 31.7% (0.74 million t) in 1993 - 98. This production is dominated by pelagic (59% of landings) and demersal species (23%). However, the open access system has resulted in rapid increases in fishing effort, particularly in the coastal areas. The density of fishers inshore has increased from 3.6 to 8.5 fishers per km2 in the past four decades. This excess effort has resulted in overfishing of the stocks and lower economic rent from the fishery. The overall objective of coastal fisheries management along the southwest coast of India is sustainable coastal fisheries development. This requires key ecological, social, economic and administrative issues to be addressed. Ecological sustainability requires the reduction of the excess effort through limited entry and effort reduction schemes, appropriate exploitation patterns through improved gear selectivity and restoration of the degraded coastal environment through integrated coastal zone management initiatives. Key social interventions include: creation of alternative employment to reduce fisher numbers, prevention/management of increasing intra- and inter-sectoral conflicts and empowerment of artisanal fishers through co-management schemes, social legislation and improved support/welfare schemes. The key economic issues include declining earnings, particularly of artisanal fishers, which requires; optimizing fleet composition for economic returns, improvement of the marketing system and cold storage chains, improvement of post-harvest processes to increase product value. The key administrative needs are a strong fisheries policy that balances welfare concerns with sustainability, effective implementation of regulations, and increased government resources for fisheries management. Project briefs covering the key interventions are provided, however these require further review and improvement in collaboration with concerned stakeholders.


Vivekanandan, E., Srinath, M., Pillai, V.N., Immanuel, S., Kurup, K.N. (2003)
p. 757-792. Assessment, management and future directions for coastal fisheries in Asian countries. WorldFish Center conference proceedings; 67