• An umbrella term for catching of aquatic animals (Fish whales pearls crustaceans (lobster, prawns) mollusks (oysters) sponges and see weeds)
  • It is a robber industry (rate of extraction<= rate of replenishment).
  • Fish concentration depends on Temperature, depth of water, ocean currents, salinity which determines the amount of fish food or planktons.
  • Overfishing and wasteful fishing (catching young) needs to be checked on International basis because oceans have no boundaries.
  • Value of fish:
  • Source of essential minerals (which is in relatively greater proportion than in other food).
  • Fish liver oil is rich source of Vitamin A and D.
  • Products: Oils, fertilizer, Glue, cosmetics, clothing.
  • Dependent industries: Ship building and repairing, manufacture of nets and other equipments, construction of tin containers.


  • Asia > Europe > North America > Advanced countries tend to consume little fish.
  • Per capita consumption varies because of two reasons: 
    • Cheaper than meat. Therefore, in demand in developed and underdeveloped countries.
    •  Important source of food and nutrients where agricultural potential is low. 
  • Mountainous Japan and Norway are there for large consumers. 


Availability of Planktons: Collective term for millions of microscopically small organisms which are found in sea water. They drift on water surface. Important conditions for presence of planktons are as follows:

Shallow water conditions: shallow continental shelves, sunlight conditions. The world’s most extensive continental shelves are shelves of mid to high latitudes in North Hemisphere (Newfoundland, western Europe, North Sea and Sea of Japan)

Cool water: They are plentiful in areas where cold and warm current meet in polar areas for example, Newfoundland banks and Sea of Japan where cold water from the ocean floor wells up to the surface as it does of the west coast of South America.

Land derives minerals: they are nourished by minerals brought from rivers. 

Cool climate:Marine life is best developed in Temperatures less than 20 degree C.Also, fish easily deteriorate in tropical climate. Although refrigeration has somewhat lowered the influence of climate but due to high cost, its use is still restricted.

Physical and environmental influences:High indented coastlines of Atlantic and Pacific high latitudes backed by strong relief provide ideal locations for fishing ports. E.g., Boston, St Johns, Grimsby. Rugged mountain terrain and short growing season of Alaska, Norway, Iceland, and Hokkaido restrict agricultural activities, therefore prominent fishery. Temperate woodlands provide wood for fishing boats and hence traditional advantage. 

Tropical diversity:Tropical areas have more diversity in fishes but for commercial exploitation same variety of species are more profitable. 

Extensive research and capital: Temperate countries are better with capital and technology hence take lead in developing commercial fisheries. 


  • Zones of Jurisdictions: According to UNCLOS,
  • Territorial waters: 19 Km from the coast or from base line drawn round an indented coast to include fjords, estuaries and land between the mainland and offshore islands as internal waters. This allows country like Indonesia to claim waters between its Island.
  • Contiguous Zone: In which the coastal state can take action against those who break the law within the true Territorial water
  • Exclusive Economic Zone: 320 km or 200 miles, Within EEZ, coastal state has right to exploit all economic resources like fish, minerals, oil and gas and energy production. 
  • Continental shelf: States can extend their rights of EEZ to edge of the shelf as much as 800 miles in some cases. But it does not include rights of the sea beyond to 200.
  • High Seas: Beyond all zones in which individual countries can lay claim. They are free to navigation by vessels of all nations. They may be used freely for laying of submarine cables and the airspace over them is also free. Unfortunately, they may also be used as a dumping ground for waste material by all. 
  • Oceans may be freely fished by all nations but some international agreements put voluntary restrictions on fishing and whaling to secure future catches.
  • Fishery is often a cause of friction between countries.


Major commercial fishing grounds are located in cool waters of northern hemisphere in comparatively high latitude:

(a) Northwest Pacific Region: Japan: Commercial fishing is best developed because of highly organised industry with modern fishing methods.

(b)  North East Atlantic and adjacent waters of the Arctic– European countries especially Norway, Denmark, Spain Iceland and the United Kingdom. Shallow waters of the North Sea especially the most exploited Dogger bank are important areas where fishing is carried out all round the year.

(c)  Northwest Atlantic: It includes Grand Bank and the Georges Bank area of the Northwest Atlantic. The convergence of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current in that region enhances productivity. 

(d) Northeast Pacific– Extending from Alaska to California along the western shores of North America form the fourth large fishing area of the world. Salmon is the most valuable fish of this region but tuna, halibut and sardines also important.

(e) Southeast Pacific– Lying off the coast of South America is known for the anchovy harvest off the coast of Peru. The northward flowing Peru Current provides an ideal environment for the anchovy culture because it is associated with a coastal upwelling of nutrient rich colder water laden with plankton on which the anchovy feeds.

(f)  West Central Pacific– Extends from the Philippines and Indonesia southward to the Australian coast.


  • Vast continental shelves.
  • High availability of planktons.
  • Intermixing of Cold and warm currents.
  • Lack of natural resources on land. Agricultural land is restricted and growing season is short.
  • Presence of similar varieties of species. 
  • Cool temperate climate not only favors large scale commercial fishing, but also preservation and storage of fishing.
  • Availability of technology and capital.

Reasons for Inland fisheries being dominant in India:

Till 2000, marine fish production dominated India’s total fish production. However due to practice of science-based fisheries, Inland fisheries in India has seen a turnaround and presently contributes ~70 % of total fish production.

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  • India has rich inland water resources—rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs and floodplain wetlands. 
  • Marine fisheries require capital intensive, technology based trawlers to compete with other players.
  • Huge chunk of population livers along the riverbanks.
  • Inland city centers provide huge market.
  • Agriculture-fisheries combination is very dominant in northern plains of UP and Bihar. Rice fields are also used to rear fishes. 

Steps to promote inland fisheries in India:

  • Develop national inland fishery policy for resource sustenance and promotion of fishery related livelihood and update the Inland fishery policy of each state through a stake holder-based approach.
  • Shift priority to bringing more water resources under fish production with equal importance to indigenous species. Emphasis should be given to ecosystem protection, biodiversity and above all socio-economic benefit. Equal importance to be given to capture, capture cum culture and culture fisheries. 
  • Research to look into promoting more multi species composite culture shifting from the 3 species or 6 species system to 10-16 species system as in China or Bangladesh and review the relevance of strict eradication of” “weed” and predatory fishes. 
  • Genuine inland fisher cooperative societies to be promoted, strengthened and necessary financial support given for taking up culture and capture fisheries.
  • Increase budgetary allocation for inland fishery program, and fishery dept should be made independent.
  • Proper market development support, financial support and value chain development support needs to be provided. 


  1. Japan is the most advanced deep sea fishing nation.
  2. Situated on broad continental shelf of North-West pacific.
  3. Shallow water and meeting of warm and cold currents. (Kuroshio current with Oyashio current). This helps to produce ideal conditions for plankton growth. Pelagic and demersal fish are therefore abundant.
  4. Japan is made of about 3000 islands. It has highly indented coastline providing good harbors.
  5. Lack of other nutritious sources: Japan in mountainous country with limited lowlands. Rice is the main agricultural crop. Livestock and dairy farming are not so well developed. Fish, therefore, is the main source of nutrition.
  6. Being industrially and technologically advanced, Japan has developed highly efficient fishing industry.
  7. Presence of large and well-off home market as well access to export markets in the Asian market.
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