Delhi’s fishing industry sees supply to coastal states plummet
“A dozen of our projects which were to start to date have not seen the light of day”
Delhi’s besieged fishing industry is struggling to cope with erratic and prolonged monsoon patterns due to global warming. Over the past month, the city has faced a shortage of fish due to lack of supplies from coastal towns as untimely rainfall continues in parts of the country. Being a landlocked city, Delhi derives most of its fish from coastal states like Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh.
âThe fish breeding season normally starts around the end of August. This year it has been delayed because the monsoon has spread beyond its normal pattern, âsaid Sajan M Gupta, CEO of Nagodas Fish Farming and Consultancy Private Limited. He says the pattern shift has been seen for a few years now, but this year changes in the rain and the marine environment have severely disrupted the pace of the fishing industry across India.
âA dozen of our projects that were to start to date have not seen the light of day. We faced a supply shortage as the best ports in the country, including Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, were not fully functional for fishing due to the rains, âGupta said. âOur work includes fish farming and supplying fish to Delhi hotels NCR, Agra, Lucknow and Mumbai. It all went through a rough patch. “
Almost all fish retailers in Delhi source from Ghazipur wholesale mandi. âThis mandi is the distribution center for a myriad of varieties of fish in Delhi. Our businesses have suffered because of the monsoon this year, âsaid a trader from mandi. He thinks it has been the most affected season of the year.
âThe delay at one end naturally delayed everything for us. First the lockdown and now this shortage is taking a heavy toll on us, âsaid Mohammad Kamar, whose fish supply comes from Visakhapatnam and Maharashtra via Ghazipur mandi. Kamar runs an eponymous fishmonger in Chandni Chowk.
From fishermen to hotel managers, each link in the chain has designed its own safety nets to maneuver around the scenario. Fishermen who are on the front lines, both physically and financially, are adjusting to the hostile situation.
âThey recalibrate their understanding as their commitment to their occupation requires. This includes [understanding] new patterns of fish spawning and also changing gear types, âsaid Naveen Namboothri, director of the Dakshin Foundation, an NGO committed to environmental sustainability and social justice for fishing communities.
Retail store owners have resorted to selling river fish instead of marine fish to fill the gap. âGujarat white and black pomfrets generally have good sales. As they weren’t available for a while, we relied on river water fish from Andhra Pradesh, âsaid Samuel Watharkar, owner of a retail fishmonger at INA, Delhi. .
In addition to extreme overfishing and the pollution of rivers, such crises are the direct result of our refusal to fight against global warming. India’s fishing industry is primarily anchored around the Indian Ocean, where, according to the Indian Ocean Rim Association, there has been a decline in fish stocks over the past year. It is estimated that 47% of the 441 marine stocks are fully exploited, 18% are overexploited, 9% are depleted and 1% are recovering.
Meanwhile, according to the IPCC, the Indian Ocean, which includes the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, is warming at a faster rate than any other ocean in the world. Its level increases by about 3.7 mm per year.
The serious situation evoked by various studies like these gives some results. Recently, the Mumbai municipal authority, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, announced the creation of a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan, inviting experts to submit proposals for the same.
The Central Institute for Marine Fisheries Research has also published a research project titled âImpacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Strategies for Marine Fisheries in Indiaâ with the support of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change of the Union.
Although global warming is primarily caused by industrial greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation for agriculture, mining and other forms of exploitation, these mitigation strategies focus on communities of fishermen themselves.
The study recommends strategies such as adopting climate-friendly technologies or environmentally friendly fishing practices such as halophyte cultivation and intensifying seaweed cultivation along the Indian coastal region. It also recommends capacity building to make fishermen climate smart.
To maintain a healthy stock of marine fish, ICAR-CMFRI has conducted scientific studies and recommended that the government establish a minimum legal catch size for 58 marine species off the coast of Kerala, so as not to interfere with reproduction.
This could be used as a management tool for sustainable fisheries, and each maritime state could conduct such scientific studies and prioritize species, on which government or enforcement agencies could take action. The data could be periodically updated, the study suggests.