The Union government on Satruday said it would help the seafood sector in all possible ways to make India number one exporter by working together with all stakeholders, including the states and the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).
Union Minister Som Parkash said there was an urgent need to make India the prime producer of seafood, going up from the fourth position it was occupying now.
Addressing the 22nd India International Seafood Show here the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry acknowledged that the sector was facing a plethora of problems in achieving the production and export targets without compromising on quality and environment.
The government is willing to address each one of them as this would contribute to the country's overall economic development besides improving the employment opportunities, Prakash said.
At present, the sector provides employment to about 14.5 million people.
The minister was speaking at a function where he and other dignitaries, including Kerala Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma, gave away MPEDA Awards to 60 companies and individuals for their excellent performance.
Parkash said in view of the economic slowdown, there was a need for "working very hard" for achieving various targets set by the seafood industry.
"Whatever problems you have, the government is ready to address them," he assured the delegates.
He asked MPEDA to prepare and submit a memorandum, listing the sector's requirements.
Mercykutty Amma sought liberal financial assistance from the Centre for upgradation of the fishing industry in Kerala, including for replacement of the kerosene engine by more environment- friendly engines and for expansion of inland aquaculture.
Finance from the Centre was required also for implementing the state's plan to popularise deep sea fishing, she said.
Among others who addressed the award function, held on the second day of the three-day show, were MP Hibi Eden, MPEDA Chairman K S Srinivas, Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) National President Jagdish V Fofandi, former MPEDA Chairmen SJose Cyriac and T K A Nair.
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