Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Jan 17, 2005
Agri-Biz & Commodities - Aquaculture
Industry & Economy - Exports & Imports
Seafood exports may decline 30 pc
Kochi , Jan. 16
SEAFOOD exports from India may decline by as much as 30 per cent, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said in an assessment report on the impact of tsunami in South-East Asian region.
Fishermen living along the 1,000-km of Indian coastline were the worst hit by tsunami. About 2,000 fishing boats, 48,000 fishing gear have been lost and 3,00,000 fishermen have lost their jobs. In Tamil Nadu, 591 fishing villages and 30 islands of Andaman and Nicobar islands have been badly affected by the tsunami, the report said.
However, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) was more cautious and its Chairman, Mr G. Mohan Kumar, said: "We are still assessing the damages an it is still to early to comment on this report."
But the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) was more forthcoming. "After attending the initial massive relief and rehabilitation measures in the affected areas, the assessment reveals considerable humanitarian, social and economic damage. Specifically with reference to the fishing industry and aquaculture sector, the devastation is extensive and far surpassing the initial estimates."
The FAO report said that in India, fishery and aquaculture are considered very important facets of the economy and have been seriously damaged. Though localised agricultural crop losses have been reported, they are not likely to have an impact at the national level. Tourism prospects will also not be seriously affected. Fishery and aquaculture of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Somalia will be seriously affected, the report noted.
The tsunami impact on aquaculture farms is equally devastating, the SEAI said. A large number of aqua farms near the coastline were inundated leaving a trail of destruction of the properties, particularly the critical Eastern embankments and seawater pumping stations. Most Indian aqua farms are small farmer-owned operations. These farms were not insured against natural calamities and therefore, the economic losses will significantly impair the ability of these farms to revive operations.
The FAO added: " In Andhra Pradesh, which accounts for about 25-30 per cent of India's total seafood exports, 2,000 fishing boats were estimated lost and 400 fish tanks were damaged."
The true extent of the damage is just beginning to unravel, sources in SEAI said. The fish landings from the sea would be reduced. The long-term impact on aquaculture farms can also be grave.
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