Effective Mapping and Monitoring of Fisheries Activities using Geospatial Technology
The Government of India has come up with a comprehensive plan to revamp and accelerate the growth of the Fisheries sector in India. Aquaculture can prove to be a very productive use of resources in this respect, with the amount of food produced per hectare being considerably higher than that in arable farming or livestock rearing.
An Impressive Trajectory of Growth
India is the fourth-largest seafood exporter and the second-largest producer of aquaculture. A technology-driven sector, aquaculture production export value in India is almost $7 billion, of which a major share comes from shrimp export. The Union government is now eyeing the doubling of these exports, opening up myriad avenues for the sector’s expansion and progress.
Aqua-feed resources production is one of the fastest expanding agricultural industries in the world, with growth rates in excess of 30 percent per year, even greater than the growth rate of the global population. Resource availability and use have allowed over 3x faster sector growth compared to terrestrial farm animal meat production.
The growth rate of fish production in the country in the last five years has been 7.53% while it has touched nearly 10% in exports. 28 million fishers and fish farmers in the country are directly dependent on the sector at the primary level. The Government now aims at a total fish production of 220 lakh tonnes for the next five years.
Why Boost the Segment?
Fish has always been valued as a vital source of proteins and essential nutrients, especially for the poorer sections of the global community. Supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions, fish is also one of the most traded food commodities across the world.
It is no surprise then that the Government is shifting its focus toward the development of entrepreneurial initiatives and the promotion of start-up ecosystems in Aquaculture. Considering India’s abundant and highly prospective brackish water resources, Aquaculture seems to harbor immense economic potential. The country’s vast network of rivers, canals, tanks, ponds, reservoirs, and backwaters harbor a rich diversity of fish, contributing to 11% of the total fish species of the world. Not just marine aquaculture, but even inland water ecosystems pose optimistic prospects for such development.
Geospatial Technology-led Development for Fisheries and Aquaculture
The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) has the mandate to enhance the potential of inland aquaculture sustainably. Besides, it also aims to double fishermen’s income through increased productivity and better marketing of post-harvest under the Blue Revolution (Neel Kranti Mission). This requires addressing critical gaps in fish production with respect to quality, technology, infrastructure and management, and modernization, thus establishing a robust fisheries management framework and fishers’ welfare.
GIS-based fish resource mapping and site selection for Aquaculture comes across as a potential solution. GIS helps in the development of Aquaculture under two basic categories – suitability of site-zoning and strategic planning for development. Policymakers can integrate the derived data to support traditional ways of geographical analysis, such as map overlay analysis, statistical analysis, and multi-criteria approach, besides innovative methods of analysis and modeling.
GIS also helps visualize and monitor fish resources through the mapping of primary and associated spatial parameters using a GIS dashboard. The technology can help strategize fish marketing and transportation to ensure an efficient supply chain, boosting fish consumption in return. The GIS-based web dashboard could be accessed through simple mobile applications, helping both policymakers and other stakeholders in monitoring data and processes through automated graphs, sheets, and reports.
The state of Maharashtra in India, for instance, is gifted with myriad inland water resources – rivers, lakes, reservoirs, tanks, canals, farm ponds, backwaters, and estuaries. According to a state report, about 3.83 lakh ha of inland water areas are available for fish culture, which accounts for 5.24 % of the total inland water area of the country. Another Central Water Commission (CWC) report highlights that Maharashtra has 1845 reservoirs covering an area of 2.99 lakh ha. Compared to such massive aquatic wealth, Maharashtra’s inland fish production is considerably low. It can, however, be enhanced using modern technologies like Remote Sensing and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Figure 1: Enterprise Application of ARMANS; Source: Genesys International
Genesys International Corporation Ltd, an Indian Geospatial enterprise has undertaken the initiative to develop an Aquaculture Resources Management Network System (ARMANS) powered by Geospatial technology and augmented with Artificial Intelligence( AI) following PMMSY guidelines to meet the same goals.
Purpose of the Project
To provide countrywide access to wide-ranging high-quality information for the successful management of fishery resources using Geospatial technologies through a structured network of systems.
The future development of Aquaculture depends on the adoption of new and innovative production technologies. Some of the most common problems that can be readily resolved are as follows:
- Inadequate country-level database on the status of production, consumption, and marketing of fish in the inland sector
- Incomplete seamless inventory of the water bodies across the country for fisheries activities.
- Small-scale, spatially diffused inland fishery activities not getting organized and are not reflected in national statistics and accounting
- Fractional utilization of water areas such as rivers, canals, hills, and tanks
- Multiple ownership of existing water bodies in multiple cases leads to under-utilization.
- Indulgence of middlemen in the process of leasing and taking the water bodies on lease
- The grants management procedure is not fully transparent with respect to funds utilization towards visible progress in the field.
- Weather-related activities not integrated with the fisheries segment to provide alerts at the Village, Taluka, District, and State levels.
- Location-based details were not in-built into the system. A GIS-based complete inventory of countrywide inland fisheries is missing.
- A Decision-Making System is missing in the Department of Fisheries.
In short, there is no comprehensive database in India on Inland Fisheries integrated with a Geospatial database. The need for a countrywide Indian Fisheries Resources Monitoring and Management System connecting a network of systems is now more urgent than ever before.
Scope and Approach
The development of a comprehensive decision-making system calls for detailed data collection of various parameters, systematic analysis, and appropriate frameworks to generate “what if” scenarios. This needs the generation of a countrywide inventory of Water Bodies wherein Fisheries are being/ to be done through mapping with open standards
Figure 2: Representational Illustration highlighting the process of Aquaculture resource mapping
Enlisted below are the components of the Project’s Scope:
- Mapping of Water Bodies using high-resolution satellite data and feature extraction using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, followed by ground truth and field surveys.
- Generation and integration of Transport networks connecting various Rural and Urban Centres in the Geospatial environment
- Linking of attributes with the features of the respective Water Bodies in the database.
- Development of Mobile Applications for collecting data on water quality, quantity, temperature, market inputs, and so on.
- Development of a web-based enterprise Geospatial system with supply chain logistics.
Solution – Case Study
The development of cage cultivation, brackish water, cold water, and ornamental fisheries under Freshwater and Inland Water ecosystems are common practices in India. A Pilot Project has been carried out in the Panshet Dam, Pune, Maharashtra, for ascertaining site suitability for cage cultivation.
Satellite data of the area for the past three years were collected and relevant real-world features were extracted for pre- and post-monsoon dates. Aerial imagery of areas surrounding the Panshet Dam was captured using Drones, while a boat-mounted Echo-Sounder (ODOM MK-III) was deployed to measure the water depth of the entire Panshet Dam.
Water samples were also collected at multiple locations from the Panshet reservoir, analyzed for N, P, CO2, pH, dissolved O2, and NH3, and geo-coordinates were recorded. The application analyzed water spread area (WSA) using the temporal Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI). Based on the extent, depth, quality of the water, and other parameters, specific sites of fish habitation within the reservoir most suited for cage cultivation were identified.
Similarly, application for identifying site suitability of brackish water, cold water, and ornamental aquaculture in any region of the inland water of India is possible. The application can handle supply chain management from production sources to destination markets with ease.