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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Government-led development of India's marine fisheries since 1950 : catch and effort trends, and bioeconomic models for exploring alternative policies Bhathal, Brajgeet


At present, more than 50% of global marine fisheries catches are made in developing countries, and an increasingly large fraction of these catches are entering the world market. Thus, fisheries-related issues in developing countries must be addressed as part of any discussion of global fisheries issues. This thesis analyses the status of marine fisheries in India by reconstructing essential data and constructing biological and economic models. First, effort data were reconstructed over the period of 1950-2005 at the state level. This showed a continuous increase. Then, the catch data were updated and assembled from 1950-2005 at the species level for all states, which showed a gradual increase over time but began to level off toward the end of the period in question. CPUE, an index of relative abundance, was estimated per study area using the final time-series of catches and effective fishing effort from 1950-2005. This measure illustrated a continuous decline. Using the above-compiled data, i.e., time series of catch and CPUE, surplus production models (Fox-linear and Schaefer-non-linear) were created for India and its east and west coasts. Both types of model used in this study indicated that at present, fisheries yields in India are near MSY, but this is achieved at excessive levels of effort and is based on a spatial expansion that is unsustainable. Economic performance was evaluated by bioeconomic models for India in which three scenarios were generated for fishing cost based on the inclusion of different levels of subsidies. The results illustrate that economic overfishing is occurring in the Indian fisheries and the current level of fishing effort is almost twice that corresponding to fMEY, i.e., far beyond the level that maximizes economic rent. Overall, the analysis indicates that fisheries are operating unsustainably, pointing toward a serious problem. Thus, India should not continue on its present course of expanding its fisheries through massive subsidization, given the depletion of stocks and poor economic efficiency of this sector. India needs to curb its existing overcapacity and could effectively start with the phasing out of trawlers, which would increase the income of other sectors and their catch per effort.

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