Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

[op-ed snap] Marine Fisheries Bill addresses a regulatory void. It needs cooperative federalism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Marine fisheries bill


A Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management (MFRM) Bill 2019 is in the public domain for discussion.


  1. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements, India has obligations to frame laws. 
  2. The annual fishery potential of the country’s EEZ is about 5 million tonnes. 


  1. Under UNCLOS, the sea and resources in the water and the seabed are classified into three zones — the internal waters (IW), the territorial sea (TS) and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 
  2. The IW is on the landward side of the baseline including gulfs and small bays. Coastal states treat IW like land. 
  3. TS extends outwards to 12 nautical miles from the baseline — coastal nations enjoy sovereignty over airspace, sea, seabed, and subsoil and all living and non-living resources therein. 
  4. EEZ extends outwards to 200 nautical miles from the baseline. Coastal nations have sovereign rights for exploration, exploiting, conserving and managing all the natural resources therein.
  5. Since fisheries is a state subject, fishing in the IW and TS come within the purview of the states concerned. 
  6. Other activities in the TS and activities, including fishing beyond the TS up to the limit of the EEZ, are in the Union list. 
  7. No Central government, so far, has framed laws covering the entire EEZ. 
  8. The Bill attempts to make up for this. 


  1. The Bill is also a response to discussions on fisheries’ subsidies at the WTO since the Doha Round of 2001. 
  2. India has been defending the rights of developing nations for special and differential treatment. 
  3. Developed countries contend that nations without laws to manage fisheries in their respective EEZs are not serious about unregulated fishing. 
  4. MFRM Bill is India’s response to such sentiments.

Provisions – analysis


  1. The Bill prohibits fishing by foreign fishing vessels, thus nationalising our EEZ. 
  2. Bigger vessels registered and licensed under state departments will need a permit to fish. This is a welcome measure to manage the fishing sector.
  3. The Bill respects the jurisdiction of our coastal states over the TS.
  4. It proposes social security for fish workers and calls for the protection of life at sea during severe weather events. 


  1. An Indian fishing vessel that wants to fish in the EEZ, outside the TS, must obtain a permit. This requirement has been contested by small-scale operators.
  2. There is a faulty assumption that only large-scale vessels fish outside the TS. Thousands of small-scale fishing crafts regularly venture into such areas.
  3. It is not congruent with important regional fishery agreements. It is incomplete compared to the regulations in other coastal nations. 

Way ahead

  1. Exemption clauses to safeguard the livelihoods of small scale fishermen should be incorporated in the Bill.
  2. State governments, fisher associations and the fishing industry representatives should argue for greater “cooperative federalism”.
  3. Cooperative governance between them over different territories (IW, TS, and EEZ) is key to the sustainable management of marine fisheries.
  4. Fisheries should now ideally go into the Concurrent List. 
  5. Small-scale fish workers should demand to make the entire IW and TS completely free of trawling using the FAO/UN Small-Scale Fisheries. 


The Doha Development Round or Doha Development Agenda is the trade-negotiation round of WTO which commenced in 2001. Its objective was to lower trade barriers around the world and facilitate increased global trade.

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