Fish stocks in India are suffering the most as fisheries management fails to keep pace with demand and the growing threat of climate change.
The World Conservation Union has urged India to reverse a long-standing trend of declining fish stocks.
A new study shows that fish stocks have fallen by over a third since the late 1980s.
It says that more than 4,000 tonnes of fish were lost in the last 10 years, while fisheries are at “a crisis point” due to pollution and overfishing.
The study says that India’s catch of cod, herring and other small fish is falling faster than the world’s.
It is estimated that by 2050 India will have less than 500,000 fish stocks, which are thought to be the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate-change.
The new study, published in the Journal of Economic Geography, says that fisheries management is being pushed too far by “politicised” and “unpredictable” policies that “fail to account for the complexities and opportunities of a changing fish market”.
It says that the failure of governments to keep fish stocks at a sustainable level can have devastating impacts on fisheries and the livelihoods of fish farmers, fishers and the communities who depend on them.
“This report, and the work of other researchers, indicates that governments and their policies need to address the challenges that exist in the fisheries management sector,” said the report’s co-author, Dr Misha Bhattacharya.
“The failure to do so will likely cause significant distress to fish farmers and communities.”
India’s fisheries are the world top producer of cod.
The country is a major importer of cod from the United States, China and Russia.
The world’s largest cod fishery is in Kerala state, the world largest exporter of the fish.
Its stocks are in a “critical” situation due to the decline in cod prices, according to the World Bank.
The fish is being used in Indian restaurants and is also being sold to Asian countries for sushi.
Fish stocks in the country have been falling by up to 80% over the past decade.
According to the new study’s report, India’s fishing industry is already suffering from the impact of climate disruption and poor management.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented change in the fish supply chain,” said co-lead author Dr Manoj Kumar.
“This trend is affecting fisheries management as well as the overall quality of fisheries.
It’s not just about the fish stocks but also the fish farming, aquaculture, the fisheries industry and the ecosystem.”
The study found that the number of cod fishers in India has fallen by a third in the past 10 years.
It found that around 10 million cod are currently in Indian fisheries, while the world fish catch has dropped by nearly 60% in the same period.
The fishing industry needs to find “more efficient ways of capturing fish and managing them better”, it added.
While the decline of fish stocks in Indian waters is the result of overfarming, the study also highlighted that it is not the only threat to fisheries in the Indian Ocean.
The report found that fishing gear, such as hooks, nets and netting, are being used to catch smaller fish in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian ocean.
The report said that the fishing industry in India “is at a crisis point, facing increasing threats of over-fishing, and over-exploitation of fisheries resources”.
India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests and Fisheries, which is responsible for fisheries management, said the study “is a clear signal that the government must change course on the management of fisheries in India, and address the problems identified in this study”.
It said the ministry is currently working on a report on the impact on the fisheries sector.
“We have been monitoring fisheries and fishing trends in India since 2002, and we have made a number of recommendations on how we can improve our management practices, which include improving fishery management, the capture of fish and fish-processing facilities, sustainable fish management and the management and conservation of fish,” it added in a statement.