Promoting Artificial Reef for Rejuvenating Coastal Fisheries
Department of Fisheries (DoF) has sanctioned 732 artificial reef units for 10 coastal states with a total investment of Rs 126 crore
To promote sustainable practices, Department of Fisheries has sanctioned 732 artificial reef units for 10 coastal states with a total investment of Rs 126 crore as a sub-activity under “Integrated Modern Coastal Fishing Villages” of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).
The projects are being implemented with the technical support of Fishery Survey of India (FSI) and ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). All the states have completed their site selection process while states of Kerala and Maharashtra have completed the tendering process for execution of work. Thus, all projects are expected to be completed by January 2024.
As one of the impactful strategies, installation of artificial reefs in coastal waters and undertaking sea ranching programs across in all coastal states is expected to rejuvenate of coastal fisheries and re-build fish stocks.
Artificial reefs are engineering technology interventions used to rehabilitate and/or improve natural habitats, increase productivity and manage aquatic resources including habitat enhancement (FAO, 2015). Installation of artificial reefs is advantageous in many forms as below:
– Similar to natural reefs, ARs used for aggregating fish and provide a home for fish to live and grow, reduce wave damage on coasts, helps regeneration of marine ecosystem and act as a carbon sink. As per CMFRI, two to three-fold increase in catch rates and efficiency can be realized Thus saving fuel and energy costs leading to increased income. They improve the marine life in a certain area.
– They provide a new location for fishermen to fish and which works to ease the pressure on natural reefs.
– They can also help to rebuild a fish population so further revenue can be made through offshore fishing.
– Provide a firm substrate for marine life such as corals, algae and plankton to attach to and grow They provide favorable conditions for sea ranching and serve as spawning and nursery grounds for fish.
– Enhance recreational fisheries, snorkeling, eco-tourism, creating suitable areas for diving and reducing conflicts. Artificial reefs can be just as beautiful as the natural varieties and so help towards the tourist and diving trades.
– Artificial reef structures restrict bottom trawling in the near shore areas thus helping the marine environment to regenerate and small-scale fishers get higher catch.
– One artificial reef of 300m3 is expected to support 25-30 non-mechanized boats (CMFRI).
– It may be noted that PMMSY was launched in May 2020 with the highest ever investment of Rs. 20,050 crore to bring about Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector. Over the years, increased fishing activities has reduced per capita yield from coastal fisheries, to led to heavy fishing pressure, loss of fishing grounds due to bottom trawling, coastal development etc. This has also resulted in reduced income and forcing the fishers to go to deeper waters.