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Enhancing Productivity (Fish)

Problems and Prospects of Fisheries in West Bengal

Srikanta Samanta
Sanjoy Das
Archan Kanti Das

Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore


Marine Inland

Length of coast line 158 Total inland water bodies 5.45

(Km) (lakh Ha)
Continental Shelf 17 Rivers & canals (Km) 2,526
(000 sq km)
Number of Fish 59 Reservoirs (Lakh ha) 0.17
Landing Centers
No of Fishing villages 188 Tanks & ponds (lakh Ha) 2.76

No of fishermen 76,981 Flood plain lakes/derelict 0.42

families waters (lakh Ha)
Fisher-folk population 3,80,138 Brackish water (lakh Ha) 2.10
Inland Fishery Resource in West Bengal
Inland Resources Length /
Bracish River (km) 2526
water/Beri Pond/Tanks
35% Reservoir (lakh ha) 0.17
Ponds and 2.76
Sewage fed Tanks(lakh ha)
0% Beels, Oxbow Lakes 0.42
(lakh ha)
Brackish Water 2.10
Resources (lakh ha)
10% Beel/Baor

River Riservoir
21% 3%

Annual Report 2009-10,Department of Fishery, West Bengal

Fisheries in West Bengal can be divided broadly in
three categories
Capture fishery
Culture based capture fishery

Paddy cum Fish culture and Sewage fed fishery is also practiced in
some parts of West Bengal
Fish production trends/ Growth rate and seed production in West Bengal
Year Inland Marine Total Fish seeds
Inland Growth Marine Growth Production Growth In million
(000 tons) (%) (000 tons) (%) (000 tons) (%) fry
2004-05 1035.50 4.81 179.50 -1.16 1215.00 3.88 12200
2005-06 1090.00 5.36 160.00 -10.86 1250.00 2.88 12200
2006-07 1181.01 8.35 178.10 11.31 1359.10 8.73 13200
2007-08 1264.53 7.07 182.74 2.61 1447.26 6.49 13572
2008-09 1294.71 2.39 189.29 3.58 1484.00 2.54 14181
2009-10 1338.00 3.34 179.00 -5.44 1517.01 2.22 12566
2010-11 1246.15 -6.86 197.11 10.12 1443.26 -4.86 13453
2011-12 1290.22 3.52 182.02 -7.66 1472.04 1.99 13846
2012-13 1337.66 152.35 1590.02
2012-13 2012-13 2011-12
2011-12 2011-12 2010-11
2010-11 2010-11 2009-10
2009-10 2009-10
2008-09 2008-09
2007-08 2007-08
2006-07 2006-07 2006-07
2005-06 2005-06 2005-06
2004-05 2004-05 2004-05

0 500 1000 1500 0 100 200 300 10000 12000 14000 1600
Significant increase in fishing effort Overfishing
Use of gears - non selective/ small mesh size Recruitment failure
Juvenile Fishing Loss of biodiversity
Siltation of water bodies Loss of breeding ground
Pollution with nutrients, metals, pesticides, persistent Habitat degradation

Encroachment to water spread area due to demand Loss of water area

for land
Non availability of economic fish feeds Catch /Production Decreasing
Decreased initiatives in Fisherman Cooperative
Meager financing Not developing as organised
Climate change and associated effects Change in salinity, flood
Unavailability of quality fish seeds Lower fish production
Problems in Capture fishery in West Bengal

Main resource of capture fishery in West Bengal is river.

River is source of livelihood of many fishers

Problem : Decline in fish catch

Destructive fishing method
Habitat degradation due to water pollution
Climate change
Problems in Estuaries:
Hilsa Fishery is livelihood of many fishers in Hooghly estuarine
system but now Hilsa fisheries is at stake.
Overfishing of adults, juveniles and fries (20 mm) by using
destructive fishing gears
Habitat degradation due to pollution
Loss of critical spawning and nurseries grounds due to water
withdrawals and diversions
Data shows decline catch from 15799.0 t to 5530.0 t during the
period of 2000 to 2010 in Hooghly estuarine system(CIFRI,2011).

Hilsa juvenile catch in destructive fishing gears

Major issues related to capture fisheries of the Sunderbans

Bag net (Been jal)

Use of cod-end with small mesh or mosquito net
resulting in huge quantity bye-catch of very small
fish juveniles (including prized hilsa, P.
paradiseus, E. tetradactum, scienids etc) with no
commercial value (Feed for Clarius garipinus in
some places!!)
Set barrier (Chor pata / Khal pata jal)
Use of mosquito net in Set barrier resulting in
trapping of very small fish juveniles which are even
not harvested as they mingle with mud during low
tide; huge destruction of juveniles of prized fishes
like mullets, Glossogobius, prawns and crabs

Small mesh gill net (chhandi jal)

Small mesh (1) gill net often resulted in catching of
juveniles of prized fishes (including hilsa juveniles)
having less commercial value and loss of important
capture fishery resources
Issues related to juvenile capture fishery in Sunderbans

Larvae and fish juveniles are indiscriminately destroyed during isolation of

prawn / mullet / sea-bass seed caught by various forms of net

Wanton destruction of fish juveniles

Various forms of meen jal operated in
Sunderbans to collect prawn juveniles
Capture fishery of Sunderbans
Sunderban is known as natural breeding ground of
various fishes and aquatic animals. The exploitation of
natural resources of Sunderban leads to loss of fish
Collection of fish seed/Meen collection
Use of destructive fishing gears
Habitat degradation

Meen Jaal
Gill net
Bag net
Hook & line
Cast net
Ber jal
Fishes caught with Large mesh gill
net (Cot jal) from Sunderbans

Plotosus canius

Scomberoides commersonnianus

O. militaris

E. tetradactylum
Lates calcarifer
Otolithoides biauritus
caught near sajnekhali
A view of Kholsi beel

Pen culture in beel can

enhance production
Aquaculture :

West Bengal is the Largest producer of inland fish 30% of the

national production
Leader in fish seed production - meeting 62% of countrys

Fish culture in Total resource Under culture %age of

pond or tank (in lakh (in lakh resource area
hectare) hectare) under culture

Ponds/Tanks 2.76 2.20 79.71

Annual Report 2009-10,Department of Fishery, West Bengal

Gaps found in aquaculture in West Bengal

Type / Particulars Activity & People involved in Bottlenecks

Fish seed producers / Produce seeds Fluctuating market

Hatchery owners Usually rich and influential demand of seeds

Small scale farmers Mostly as a secondary Low production

culture fish and occupation
prawns in small scale

Fish Marketing Fish selling and buying Involvement of the

Scope of Development
1. Domestication and culture of Hilsa : A fresh initiative has been taken to domesticate hilsa
from its natural habitat and finally culture it (Medium / Long).
2. Industrial Aquaculture : Development of aquaculture firms in large scale with
mechanisation, zero discharge system to meet up increasing demand for fish. Intensive carp /
Bhetki / Milk Fish culture systems / Crab fattening etc(Short /Medium).
3. Cage culture in reservoirs / rivers/ canals for fish seeds and growing table size fishes (ST)
4. Pen culture in beels / wetlands / bheries (Short term)
5. Developing economically viable fish feed from indigenous resources (research input) (MT)
6. Stocking with right size (in reservoirs with 100 mm for IMCs) (Short term)
7. Renovation / excavation of connecting channels of wetlands , etc. under different
developmental programs like NAREGA (Medium / Long)
8. Strengthening Fisherman Cooperative Societies (Short term)
9. Easy Finance Schemes from Govt. credit agencies (Short term)
10. Arrangement of alternate livelihood options during lean/ fishing ban periods(Short term)
11. Special drive to conserve and multiply IUCN listed endangered fishes (Medium / Long)
12. Development of fish sanctuaries to conserve biodiversity (Medium / Long)
13. Enforcement of Govt. laws to stop destructive fishing (Short term)
14. Maintaining environmental flow in rivers