Fisheries are a promising sunrise sector in the national and State economies. Apart from its contribution to GDP and employment, it stimulates growth in a number of subsidiary industries. It is a source of low-cost and nutritious food besides being a source of foreign exchange.

India is the second largest fish producing nation in the world. India is also a major producer of fish through aquaculture and ranks second in the world after China. The total fish production during 2015-16 (provisional) is at 107.9 lakh tonnes with a contribution of 71.65 lakh tonnes from inland sector and 36.3 lakh tonnes from marine sector. inland fish production constitutes 66 per cent of the total fish production of the country and annual growth rate of production has also been high. Though marine fish production has increased during the recent years, the growth rate is very low. Marine fisheries in India is supposed to be passing through a crisis due to over capacity and open access nature. The sector engaged over 14.50 million people at the primary level and many more along the value chain. Export earnings from the sector was 37,870.90 crore in 2016-17. The sector contributed about 0.9 per cent to the National Gross Value Added (GVA) and 5.43 per cent to the agricultural GVP (2015-16). Analysis of recent trend in exports of marine products suggests that though there was a fall in the quantity and value in 2015-16, it has increased in 2016-17.

The total fish production in Kerala during 2016-17 was 6.76 lakh tonnes, of which marine fish landings accounted for 4.88 lakh tonnes and inland fish production was 1.88 lakh tonnes. Details are provided in Appendix 2.62. Year-wise details of fish production in Kerala are provided in Figure 2.16.

Figure 2.16
Fish Production in Kerala (2012-13 to 2016-17)
Source: Fisheries Department, GOK.

Compared to 2015-16, marine, inland and total fish production fell in the State in 2016-17. The marine fishery resources of the State is said to have almost attained the optimum level of production. Marine fish landing in Kerala has been declining continuously since 2011-12, with the exception of a marginal increase in 2014-15. High value species among the fish catch is less. However, significant among them are Seer fish, Prawn, Ribbon fish and Mackerel. The quality of these high value species in the total catch ultimately decides the income of the fishworkers. The species wise marine fish landings in Kerala from 2013-14 to 2016-17 are shown in Appendix 2.63.

At national-level, 66 per cent of the total fish production is contributed by the inland sector, however at the State level, the share of inland sector is only 28 per cent which is relatively less than the marine sector. The difference in the composition of total production in India and Kerala are brought out in Figure 2.17.

Figure 2.17
Fish Production in India and Kerala – Relative Share of Marine and Inland Fishing
Source: Fisheries Department, GOK; DAHD, GOI.

The species-wise inland fish production in Kerala from 2013-14 to 2016-17 are shown in Appendix 2.64. Inland fish production had showed signs of improvement from 1999-2000 and it had been increasing till 2015-16. Kerala has not utilised its potential in inland fishing. Kerala has over 7 per cent of the water bodies in the country, but its share in inland fishing is lower than that of many other States.

Population of the State as per Census 2011 is 334 lakh. The fishworker population is estimated to be around 3.1 per cent of the State’s population. They reside in 222 marine fishing villages and 113 inland fishing villages of the State. The fishworker population of the State in 2016-17 is estimated to 10.29 lakh. Out of this, 7.92 lakh fishworkers belong to marine sector while 2.37 lakh fishworkers belong to inland sector. Alappuzha (1.91 lakh) is the district with largest fishworker population, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (1.70 lakh) and Ernakulam (1.37 lakh). The district wise details of fishworker population are given in Appendix 2.65.

The number of active fishworkers in the State during 2016-17 was 236,300 of which 89 per cent were males. Thiruvananthapuram district had the largest number of active fishworkers. Active fishworkers are those who are engaged in fishing for their livelihood and are registered with Kerala Fishermen’s Welfare Fund Board. During 2016-17, the number of allied workers in fisheries in Kerala was 77,597 of which 81 per cent were females. Their numbers were highest in the district of Alappuzha. Allied workers are those engaged in fishery related activities for livelihood and are registered with Kerala Fishermen’s Welfare Fund Board.

Fisheries and aquaculture contributes around 8.5 percentage of the Gross State Value Added (GSVA) from the primary sector which is of significance to the State economy. The Gross State Value Added of the State has been increasing over years, but the share of primary sector and that of fisheries sector has been declining. The share of fisheries sector in the State Value Added has declined from 1.12 per cent in 2011-12 to 0.95 per cent in 2016-17. The share of Primary Sector in GSVA has declined from 15.20 per cent in 2011-12 to 11.27 per cent in 2016-17. Such a trend is despite the fact that value added in absolute terms has increased in 2016-17 compared to the previous year. It means that the growth in this sector and sub-sector is slower than the rest. Details regarding the contribution of fisheries sector in GSVA are given in Appendix 2.66.

An analysis of the figures of district wise fish production in Kerala shows that the district of Kollam is the leading producer of marine fish followed by Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram. These 3 districts together contribute around 74 per cent of the total marine fish production in the State. Ernakulam, Alappuzha, and Thrissur are the leading districts in the case of inland fish production occupying the first, second and third positions respectively. If we look at total fish production, the leading producer is the district of Kollam followed by Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram respectively. Details are provided in Appendix 2.67.

Kerala has made vital contributions in the export of marine products from the country. During 2015-16, export of marine products from Kerala was 1,59,141 tonnes valued at 5008.54 crore. Compared to the previous fiscal, an increase has been recorded in the quantity and value of exports from Kerala. However, the share of Kerala in the total export of marine products from India has fallen both in terms of quantity and value. Details are provided in Appendix 2.68.

Key Initiatives during 2017-18

Inland fish production is an area which holds promise for future in Kerala. Insufficient availability of good quality fish seeds was identified as a major problem. To increase the production of fish seeds and to ensure quality, it is required to strengthen the existing hatcheries, nurseries, fish farms and construct new units to the existing infrastructure. During 2017-18, an amount of 48.88 crore is allocated for inland fisheries including 28.38 crore specifically for Aquaculture. In order to eliminate the problem of loss of life while fishing at sea, fund was provided for procurement of sea rescue craft.

In order to address the relative backwardness of the fisher folk population and the fishing community, the State of Kerala had initiated a new scheme ‘Basic infrastructural facilities and human development of fisher folk’ in 2015-16. The outlay to the scheme is 216 crore in 2017-18 of which 150 crore is provided exclusively for rehabilitation of fishworkers who stay within 50 mtrs from the coast, and are vulnerable to sea erosion. Provision for purchase of land and construction of house are built into the scheme.

Performance Review under XII Five-Year Plan and Annual Plan 2016-17

The key elements of the 12th Five-Year Plan in the fisheries sector were launching of a comprehensive coastal area development project covering infrastructure, housing, sanitation, drinking water and livelihood, action plans for augmenting inland fish production to 2 lakh tonnes by the end of the Plan from 1.17 lakh tonnes, enhancement of seed production, strengthening of post-harvest infrastructure like better fish landing and handling facilities, cold chains, storage facilities as well as marketing facilities for the development of the sector and improvement in the production of value added products, micro enterprises, credit support and coverage under social security. Annual Plans are formulated keeping in mind the priorities set under the Five-Year Plans, and accordingly, the fifth year Plan programme of the XII Five-Year Plan was completed in 2016-17.

The projected outlay during the 12th Five-Year Plan under the fisheries sector was 1,471 crore (including Coastal Area Development) which accounts to 1.44 per cent of the total State Plan outlay and 16.66 per cent of the outlay under Agriculture and Allied Sectors. The actual amount budgeted during the five year period of the 12th Five-Year Plan from 2012-13 to 2016-17 is 1,420.89 crore and the expenditure reported is 1,292.69 crore (91 per cent). Year-wise details are given in Figure 2.18 and Appendix 2.69.

Figure 2.18
Fisheries and CAD – Outlay and Expenditure During 12th Five-Year Plan
Source: Budget Programme Book, 2017-18; Planspace.

The total outlay under State Plan for Fisheries and Coastal Area Development during 2016-17 was 345.03 crore. Total expenditure reported is 381.22 crore, which is 104 per cent of the State Plan outlay. The outlay on CSS schemes was 63.99 crore and the expenditure during this period was 77.44 crore. CSS schemes included a scheme receiving NCDC Assistance where the outlay was 16.50 crore and expenditure was 22.50 crore (136.4 per cent). The sector involves multiple agencies implementing umbrella schemes, which involve large number of components and sub components. There exists a threat of overlapping of schemes and issues in monitoring of implementation. An external monitoring mechanism can be adopted for evaluating the implementation and impact of the schemes implemented by various agencies.

Major Developmental Programmes

The Plan schemes of the Government under Fisheries sector can broadly be classified into the following categories -

  • Marine fisheries development
  • Inland fisheries development
  • Blue Revolution – CSS Scheme
  • Extension, Training and service delivery
  • Modernisation of markets and value addition
  • Social Security to fishworkers
  • Development of fishing harbours and management – includes CSS components
  • Scheme for the Fisheries University
  • Coastal Area Development

In the public sector, 218.32 lakh fish seed and 1145.65 lakh shrimp seed were produced. About 8055 Hz of fresh water area, 2040 Hz of brackish water area and 3970 Hz of padasekharam area were brought under fish/prawn culture in 2016-17.

In 2016-17, as part of addressing issues prevailing in the housing sector of fishworkers, assistance at the rate of 2 lakh was provided to 2421 fishworkers for construction of new houses. Assistance at the rate of 50,000 was provided to 3722 fishworkers for repairing their houses. To address the issue of Sanitation, during 2016-17, assistance at the rate of 17,500 was provided to 1688 fishworkers for constructing new toilets.

Harbour Engineering Department and Fishing Harbours

The Government of Kerala has so far completed construction work of 13 fishing harbours and the works of 11 fishing harbours are progressing. The completed fishing harbours are Vizhinjam, Thankassery, Neendakara, Kayamkulam, Thottappally, Munambam, Ponnani, Beypore, Puthiyappa, Chombal, Moplabay, Azheekal and Cheruvathoor. The On-going FH works are Muthalapozhy, Chethi (I and II), Arthungal (II), Chellanam (I and II), Chettuva, Thanur, Koyilandi, Vellayil, Thalai, Manjeswaram and Kasargode. The location of fishing harbours in Kerala are provided in Figure 2.19.

Figure 2.19
Location of Fishing Harbours in Kerala
Source: Harbour Engineering Department, GOK.

In 2016-17, Plan support was extended to fishing harbours like Arthungal, Vellayil, Thanoor, Manjeswaram, and Koyilandi. Additionally, fund was provided to complete and operationalise Chettuvai, Cheruvathur and Thalai fishing harbours. Support was also provided to Munakkakadavu Fish Landing Centre. In 2016-17, 26.24 crore was provided for fishing harbours under the State Plan. Expenditure reported was 33.48 crore.

Construction of fishing harbours was previously undertaken with the help of State fund, fund from Central government (50 per cent and 75 per cent CSS), fund under central schemes like RKVY, and fund from agencies like NABARD (under RIDF). However, Central government has introduced some changes in the funding pattern of CSS schemes and the receipt of central funds during recent years has been very low. This is having an adverse impact on the completion of fishing harbours in Kerala. The State would find the funding of such big projects a big hurdle. Time bound completion schedules for all ongoing fishing harbours need to be worked out. It is also reported that many of the fishing harbours are not in usable condition, and are not operational. Steps need to be taken to ensure that fishing harbours are fully operational throughout the year. The progress of ongoing fishing harbours is shown in Appendix 2.70.

Total revenue collected from fishing harbours and fish landing centres has shown a sharp fall of 28 per cent from 422.23 lakh in 2015-16 to 302.53 lakh in 2016-17. Highest revenue collection has been from Neendakara harbour since 2012-13. Puthiyappa FH is the second highest revenue earner in 2016-17. Together, Neendakara Puthiyappa and Kayamkulam contributed about 58 per cent of the total revenue collection from fishing harbours and fish landing centres in Kerala. Compared to 2015-16, revenue collection has registered a sharp fall during 2016-17 in major revenue earning fishing harbours like Neendakara, Puthiyappa, Thangasseri and Kayamkulam. It is understood that revenue collection depends on the quantity of marine fish catch. Marine fish production is falling but sharp fall and large fluctuations in the revenue earnings from fishing harbours need to be explored in detail to find out other reasons, if any. The details are given in Appendix 2.71.

NABARD Assisted Schemes

Apart from the construction of new fishing harbours, NABARD funds have been used for works like modernisation of existing fishing harbours, construction of fish landing centres, roads, bridges, locker rooms, walkways, etc. During 2016-17, the construction of Koopparakadavu Bridge, Rathikkal Thottipalam Bridge and Kanayamkode FLC were completed.

NABARD under RIDF XV had sanctioned 11 works of which 10 works have been completed. Ten projects including 7 bridges, fish landing centres and walk way amounting to 62.91 crore was sanctioned under RIDF XVII. Five works have been completed, and the rest are progressing. Works sanctioned under RIDF XIX include 13 fish landing centres, replenishment of Neendakara fishing harbor, 9 bridge works and 2 road works amounting to 76.72 crore. 9 Fish Landing centres, replenishment of Neendakara fishing harbor, 2 bridges and one road work have been completed. Works for 2 roads and a bridge totaling 7.82 crore have been sanctioned under RIDF XX and work is progressing. 4 new proposals with a total cost of 25.37 crore has been submitted to NABARD for consideration under RIDF XXIII. An outlay of 20 crore was provided in 2016-17 for NABARD assisted RIDF projects and an expenditure of 37.48 crore has been reported.

Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC)

Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC), a fully owned State Government Company for the integrating the development activities in the coastal area of the State, undertakes projects in coastal infrastructure development, fisheries infrastructure development, technology acquisition, commercial operation and consultancy. Presently, it is undertaking works worth around 760 crore funded by State Government, Central Government, NFDB, and NABARD. During 2016-17, KSCADC has completed 63 works worth 57 crore. In 2016-17, under the Plan scheme “Basic infrastructure facilities and human development of fisherfolk,” KSCADC was engaged in the implementation of 19 projects worth 32.10 crore. It included 14 educational infrastructur/education support projects, 4 Health infrastructure projects and a drainage project. The drainage project has been completed. NABARD under RIDF, has sanctioned 11 projects worth 31.74 crore in 2016-17. It includes 6 projects for development of Fish farms/hatcheries, 2 projects for development of Fisheries Training Centres, and 3 projects for development of educational infrastructure. Construction of Modern Hygienic fish market at Karikkode in Kollam has been approved in 2016-17 with a total outlay of 356 lakh which includes NFDB share of 178 lakh.

State government has spent considerable amount of money during the 12th Five-Year Plan period for the development of coastal infrastructure including social infrastructure. It is found that a large number of these works are still incomplete for a long period of time. The progress of schemes has to be evaluated. Schedule for time bound completion of schemes has to be prepared and implemented.

Social Security and Livelihood Support to Fishworker Community

Government of Kerala has placed emphasis on various schemes implemented to ensure social security and livelihood support to fishworker community. Apart from the Fisheries Department, Kerala Fisherman’s Welfare Fund Board and Matsyafed also implement such schemes. Plan support is also available for many such schemes. Some of these schemes are Centrally Sponsored Schemes. Schemes include those for Housing, Insurance, Pension etc apart from those which enable fishworkers to earn livelihood on a continuous basis. 2.36 lakh fishworkers benefitted from Group Accident Insurance Scheme. Additionally, 77,597 allied workers also benefitted from Group Accident Insurance Scheme. Old age pension was provided to 55,335 fishworkers. Number of beneficiaries under the scheme “Pension for wives of deceased fishworkers” was 9,965. Fund was provided for motorisation of 200 fishing crafts and subsidy was provided to 960 fishworkers for the purchase of fishing gear. 1.9 lakh fishworkers were provided support during the ‘off season’ under the ‘Saving cum Relief Scheme’. Details of such schemes implemented by the Fisheries Department and KFWFB are provided in Appendix 2.72 and Appendix 2.73 respectively. The State has been able to provide greater assistance to the fishworker community, and expand the social security net over the years.


Matsyafed is an apex federation of 651 primary level Fishworkers Development Welfare Co-operative Societies, of which 335 are in marine sector, 198 are in inland sector and 118 women co-operative societies. The total membership in these societies is more than 4.45 lakh. The Authorised share capital of the federation is 150 crore. Matsyafed has organised Self Help Groups within the fishing community and has developed among them, the habit of savings. These groups have mobilised money as thrift. By providing micro finance and interest free loans, Matsyafed has made a significant impact in the area of micro credit. In 2016-17 micro finance support was provided to SHGs which have benefitted 26,400 beneficiaries. 17,928 fisherwomen were provided Interest free loans. Matsyafed has also been successful in enabling the fishworkers have access to vital fishing inputs. 899 fishworkers have benefitted from the scheme providing subsidy for suitable complements of fishing gear. The achievement of various programmes implemented by Matsyafed is given in Appendix 2.74.

Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) and Women Empowerment

Society for Assistance to Fisherwomen (SAF) is an agency established to enable the overall development and empowerment of fisherwomen in the State. It extends financial, technological and managerial support to fisherwomen to organise as group activity, start micro enterprises and run the business in a sustainable manner. In order to promote alternative livelihood activities especially for development of micro enterprises among fisherwomen, assistance was provided to 320 beneficiaries and capacity building training was provided to 542 beneficiaries. In order to ensure sustainability of existing units, working capital revolving fund was provided to 588 units, avenues for technology improvement was provided to 100 units and capacity building training was provided to 1025 units. 336 fisherwomen benefitted from the Theeranaipunya scheme which seeks to equip fisherwomen below the age of 30 for future. The achievement of various programmes implemented by SAF is given in Appendix 2.75.

In the 11th Five-Year Plan, marine fisheries sector achieved growth especially in the area of infrastructure development. The 12th Five-Year Plan strategy was to ensure sustainable growth of Fish and Fisheries for nutrition, food security and economic growth by ensuring proper utilisation of infrastructure created in the last Plan. Special emphasis was given to conservation and management of inshore fishery resources, enhancement of offshore marine fish production, maximum utilisation of harvested fish and value addition.

As the State enters the 13th Five-Year Plan, Fisheries sector is looked upon with interest due to its immense potential to contribute positively towards development. The sector needs to take upon itself objectives like (a) nutritional security through enhancing fish production and (b) poverty reduction among fisher folk by ensuring distribution of production benefits to the community on a sustainable and equitable basis. These must be achieved keeping in mind the challenges posed by climate change and degradation of environment. The resource base of the State offers ample scope for growth of aquaculture especially in the inland waters. An active role and contribution from LSGIs can bring a revolutionary change in this direction. Resource conservation and elimination of harmful fishing practices need greater emphasis in the future endeavors, since only they can ensure a sustainable catch in the future. With adequate technological support and extension activities, the sector can be expected to do well and be a sunrise sector in the coming years.