The Covid-19 pandemic that spread all across the globe leading to lockdown, has significantly affected the fisheries & aquaculture sectors in a multitude of ways in the country. Besides the disruption of fishing activities from open-water, and aquaculture in both freshwater and brackish water systems, several associated activities like seed production, feed plant operation, supply and market chains, etc. have been greatly impacted. As a whole, the fishermen, fish workers, processors and their communities have been facing the threat of the pandemic, which is affecting the entire value chain and the livelihoods depending on it.
In order to ensure the safety of all stakeholders associated in the agricultural sector, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Govt. of India, through its research Institutes have taken several innovative steps to sensitize all concerned in different sub-sectors.
In the fisheries sector, including capture fisheries, aquaculture and other associated activities, ICAR took lead in developing and issuing advisories through the Fishery Institutions, for the safety of the workers and preventing the spread of the disease. In this endeavour, ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT), Kochi prepared advisories for the benefit of the fishermen, fishing boat owners, the fishing harbour, fish market and seafood processing plants in 10 different regional languages, besides English and Hindi. ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CIFRI), Barrackpore prepared advisories for the stakeholders involved in fishing activities in rivers, estuaries, reservoirs and wetlands. These advisories were popularized through print & electronic media, circulated to State Fisheries Departments, developmental agencies, NGOs and SHGs, and also through social media. Such efforts have been received very well by the sector across the country.
Recognizing the importance of these timely advisories, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Rome has recommended these advisories prepared by ICAR-CIFT and ICAR-CIFRI by including them as Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries under the Asia-Regional initiatives for the benefit of fisheries sector across the globe (Webpage: www.fao.org/3/ca8959en/ca8959en.pdf). This is a huge acknowledgement of the efforts by the ICAR and its institutes. The global fishery sector is expected to benefit from these efforts of the Council.