Use of Geospatial Technology for Sustainable Development of Small Scale Fisheries in India: Challenges and Way Forward

Publication Type:

Conference Papers


American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2020 (Virtual Meeting), American Geophysical Union (2020)


The total fish production in India is estimated to be 13.42 million metric tons (Mt) of which nearly 3.71 Mt are contributed by marine fisheries. The fisheries sector provides direct livelihood support to approximately 16 million people, of which marine fishers constitute a dominant subset and almost double the number along the value chain. In the past, the fisheries community in India had relied on traditional indicators of fish abundance such as the congregation of birds, colour of sea water, bubble breaking in the sea water and muddy/oily water on the sea surface in their traditionally known fishing grounds. The increased frequency of extreme weather events observed in recent times, have been related to major losses in marine ecosystem services. Further, the livelihoods of Small Scale Fisheries (SSF) communities are endangered not only by their limited understanding of the magnitude of the risks associated with natural hazards but also by the diminishing returns of relying on traditional knowledge for accurate prediction of the fishing stock at their usual locations. Therefore, the Government of India has launched several programs to use geospatial technologies for the benefit of marine pelagic fisheries in India for the sustainable development of the SSF communities. However, the lives of SSF communities are also challenged by complex, inter-linked socio-economic factors. In this paper, we focus on the maritime state of Odisha which is affected by several extreme weather events (cyclones) in the Bay of Bengal. We describe the socio-economic and technological factors which determine the degree of assimilation of the Potential Fishing Zone (PFZ) and Ocean State Forecast (OSF) advisories provided by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) with a focus on the threads linking natural and anthropocentric factors that produce significant changes in the Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) and net profit for pelagic fisheries of Odisha. More importantly, we identify the research and implementation gaps that must be addressed so that science, technology, and societal interactions can be used to enhance the sustainable development of the SSF communities. Keywords: Potential fishing zone, Catch per unit effort, Ocean state forecast, Geospatial technology.