Fish is a cheap source of animal protein for our food. Fish production includes the finned true fish as well as shellfish such as prawns and molluscs. There are two ways of obtaining fish. One is from natural resources, which is called capture fishing. The other way is by fish farming, which is called culture fishery.

The water source of the fish can be either seawater or fresh water, such as in rivers and ponds. Fishing can thus be done both by capture and culture of fish in marine and freshwater ecosystems.


India’s marine fishery resources include 7500 km of coastline and the deep seas beyond it. Popular marine fish varieties include pomphret, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and Bombay duck. Marine fish are caught using many kinds of fishing nets from fishing boats. Yields are increased by locating large schools of fish in the open sea using satellites and echo-sounders.

Some marine fish of high economic value are also farmed in seawater. This includes finned fishes like mullets, bhetki, and pearl spots, shellfish such as prawns , mussels and oysters as well as seaweed. Oysters are also cultivated for the pearls they make.

As marine fish stocks get further depleted, the demand for more fish can only be met by such culture fisheries, a practice called mariculture.


Fresh water resources include canals, ponds, reservoirs and rivers. Brackish water resources, where seawater and fresh water mix together, such as estuaries and lagoons are also important fish reservoirs. While capture fishing is also done in such inland water bodies, the yield is not high. Most fish production from these resources is through aquaculture.

Fish culture is sometimes done in combination with a rice crop, so that fish are grown in the water in the paddy field. More intensive fish farming can be done in composite fish culture systems. Both local and imported fish species are used in such systems.

In such a system, a combination of five or six fish species is used in a single fishpond.
These species are selected so that they do not compete for food among them having different types of food habits. As a result, the food available in all the parts of the pond is used. As Catlas are surface feeders, Rohus feed in the middle-zone of the pond, Mrigals and Common Carps are bottom feeders, and Grass Carps feed on the weeds, together these species can use all the food in the pond without competing with each other. This increases the fish yield from the pond.

One problem with such composite fish culture is that many of these fish breed only during monsoon. Even if fish seed is collected from the wild, it can be mixed with that of other species as well. So, a major problem in fish farming is the lack of availability of good quality seed. To overcome this problem, ways have now been worked out to breed these fish in ponds using hormonal stimulation. This has ensured the supply of pure fish seed in desired quantities.

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