In-Depth Jobs


Career Opportunities in Fisheries &
Ornamental Fish Culture

Dr. Arun S. Ninawe

Fisheries sector occupies a very important place in the socio-economic development of the country. It has been recognized as a powerful income and employment generator as it stimulates growth of a number of subsidiary industries and is a source of cheap and nutritious food besides being a foreign exchange earner. Most importantly, it is the source of livelihood for a large section of economically backward population of the country. The sector provides livelihood to over 14.49 million people engaged fully, partially or in subsidiary activities pertaining to the sector. Besides, an equal number are engaged in ancillary activities in fisheries and aquaculture. Among the fisheries sector, ornamental fish breeding is also highly professional and attractive avenue for youth. In India, 95% ornamental fish export is based on wild collection. Majority of the indigenous ornamental fish trade in India is from the North Eastern states and the rest is from Southern states which are the hot spots of fish bio diversity in India. The capture based export is not sustainable and it is a matter of concern for the industry. In order to sustain the growth it is absolutely necessary to shift the focus from capture to culture based development. Most of the fish species grown for their ornamental importance can be bred in India successfully. For organised trade however it depends on assured and adequate supply of demand, which is possible only by mass breeding.
However, the market for ornamental fish in the world for public aquaria is less than 1% at present and over 99% of the market for ornamental fish is still confined to hobbyists. Ornamental fish is regarded today as a consumer based commodity and is the star product of the pet markets. It is a multi-million dollar industry that supports thousands of rural people in the developing countries.
India's share in ornamental fish trade is estimated to be Rs 158.23 lakh which is only 0.008% of the global trade. The earning potential of this sector has hardly been understood and the same is not being exploited in a technology driven manner. There has been growing interest in ornamental fish keeping as an interesting activity for many, in the process generating income for the unemployed youth and farmers. The entrepreneurship development through ornamental fish farming is gaining popularity day-by-day. Therefore, more people are entering into this lucrative business of culturing and breeding these fish through farming. As a results, many ancillaries as pet shops are also coming up in cities and even small towns. One of the basic requirements is a clear understanding of the habits and biological requirements of the fish. The hobbyists can study the behaviour and biology of the fish during aquarium maintenance and can breed several varieties of fish.
Considering the relatively simple technique involved in fisheries and aquaculture, it has the potential to create substantial job opportunities, besides helping export earnings. There is very good domestic market too, which is mainly based on domestically bred exotic species.
India's rich biodiversity offers great scope for expansion of ornamental fish breeding. The marine products exports according to MPEDA are around Rs. 33441.61 Crores during 2014-15. The export is also contributing to ornamental fish production having a great potential for its breeding as large varities of ornamental fishes have not yet been explored. The domestic ornamental fish market is worth around Rs. 50 Crores and the demand is increasing at 20%. The earning potential of this sector has hardly been understood and the same is not being exploited in a technology driven manner. Considering the relatively simple technique involved, this activity has the potential to create substantial job opportunities, besides helping export earnings.
There are more than 120 countries involved in ornamental fish trade. About 60-65% of ornamental fish were supplied from the developing countries. Altogether about 1,800 species of fish are traded, of which over 1200 are of freshwater origin. More and more species are being added to the list as a result of advancement in breeding, transport and aquarium technology. The global ornamental fish industry, although relies largely on captive-bred fishes of freshwater origin, significant numbers of fish and invertebrates from the wild are also included. The marine fish species constitute more than 15% of the market by value. About 98% of marine fish are collected from the wild while the rest are captive-bred. In general, the lower valued fish have greater demand than the high valued species. It has been estimated that about 30 freshwater species dominate the market such as guppies, platies, swordtails, mollies, neon tetra, angel fishes, gold fish, zebra danio, discus and barbs. The guppies and the neon tetra alone represent more than 25% of the global market in volume and fetches more than 14% in value. Singapore continues to be the biggest exporter and also remains the Asian hub for ornamental fish while, United States, European Union and Japan are the major importers with Czech Republic having a prominent place in European Union in ornamental fish trade.
The Western Ghats and the North-Eastern Region of India are considered to be two of the 34 'hotspot' areas of the world for biodiversity conservation with a variety of vegetation types, climatic zones and remarkable endemism. These regions are also endowed with a variety of brilliantly coloured ornamental fishes. With an abundance of these living jewels, India has a distinctive edge over other countries in trade potential. Ornamental fish industry has enormous potential in tropical countries like India and large number of species can only foster the needs of the industry. Various indigenous, exotic ornamental fish species and ornamental shrimp species are being exported from India. To expand trade, new technologies and policies will have to be developed which will help in attaining a sustainable ornamental fish industry. The present demand is more for freshwater ornamental fish as they are easy access for breeding and there is no requirement of salinity. The high demands for ornamental breeds are Molly, Guppy, Platy, Swordtail, Gouramis, Barbs, Gold Fishes, Siamese fighter fish, Catfish, Angel, Cichlid, Tetra, Carps. New cross breeds are also developed which are more attractive and have more price in export market including the vastu fish.
Employment Avenues:
Although there has been large number of fisheries set up in India and avenues for expansion this has not been propagated due to lack of training facility and awareness among the educated youth. Creation of training centre with facilities on ornamental fish breeding can sustain production and export of ornamental fish and also increase the internal demand. This will ultimately create opportunities for unemployed youth. However, there are constraints on the availability of skilled manpower for the industry as their requirement, Innovative approach in breeding and cultivation through cage culture, pen culture, hatchery operation including integrated farming and diversification are also essential to boost the production and export. Research and Development has created with generation of knowledge to help the sector in addressing the productive issues level and the availability of critical inputs for culture like fish seed, high productive breed and medicine by involving aquaculturist, farm managers, exporters, traders, breeders and modern fishermen. Interventions at policy level helped to develop and execute fisheries development in the country. Being highly remunerative sector it is considered as a major source of employment generation and there are career avenues in various branches of fisheries and aquatic sciences. The ornamental fish breeding is more remunerative, cost of aquarium fish unit with an investment of Rs. 30,000/- in the form of cement system/ glass tank and supporting accessories like aeration, pumps, feed and medicine can help unemployed youth to earn money.
Eligibility for Fisheries education and research:
To get the entry in fisheries discipline, individuals desiring to become fisheries graduate have to pass 4 year degree from Fisheries Colleges of State Agricultural Universities. For admission in B. F. Sc (Bachelor of Fisheries Science) course he /she can apply after 10 (+2) having PCB group. Admission is given as per merit, score of candidates and the availability of seats. Special quota for outside state candidates is allowed to the candidates, who have passed entrance exam of ICAR and are getting-fellowship too. Special reserved seats are there for Jammu & Kashmir, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Many Universities through their affiliated colleges offer optional Industrial Fish and Fisheries course against Chemistry subject in 3 years B.Sc. course. Many Universities also offering M.F.Sc. 2 years course after B.Sc. in Industrial Fish and Fisheries or B.Sc. in Zoology.
B. F. Sc. involves courses such as inland aquaculture, freshwater aquaculture, mariculture, industrial fisheries, fish processing and post harvest technology, fish nutrition, pathology, environment, ecology and extension. The syllabus contains practical experience like opportunities to work on sea cruise on fishing vessels and for data collection and fishing in processing plants. On-farm studies under Rural Agriculture Work Experience (RAWE) help students to gain practical learning on aqua farms, hatcheries, fish processing units, value addition, resource management etc. through educational programme of ICAR.
After completion of B.F.Sc. candidates can opt for M.F.Sc. (Master of Fisheries Science) for taking admission in Central Institutes in India through all India level Common Entrance Test conducted by ICAR. There are eight fisheries institutes under the ICAR set up in India mainly CIFE, CIBA, CIFA, CMFRI, CIFT, CIFRI, NBFGR and DCFR. These institutes are engaged in capture, culture, value addition processing, repository, conservation and bio-diversity addressing educational and legal issues in addition to their mandate of research programme. Students can avail opportunities for masters and specialized education up to the doctoral level in these institutes. In addition there are about 20 fisheries colleges under the independent Veterinary and Animal Science University and also State Agriculture Universities offering B.F.Sc. and M.F.Sc. courses. Based on the availability of the infrastructure and State of Art Facility, fishery colleges are also offering doctoral programmes under their setup. Master's and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in aquaculture and fisheries are available through several schools. Students can choose programmes that fit with their research interests in subject areas viz. fish nutrition, water quality, aquaculture engineering, fish genetics, hatchery production and fish pathology. Most master's programs require a thesis, while Ph.D. students are typically required to complete a dissertation. There are research activities in the areas like culture and breeding of fish including ornamental fishes, integrated fish-livestock farming, fish health management and nutrition, development of post harvest and processing including intensive fish farming and environment management.
Farm Based/ Skilled Based Training:
Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) under ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) conduct trainers training in collaboration with their institutes and offering fisheries as a vocational course at 10 (+2) level with active assistance from NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training). Coastal States have fisheries schools at fishermen's dominated villages' conduct regular programme on skill development among the fishermen. Training programmes are also offered on Deep Sea Fishing and Navigation by Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical & Engineering Training (CIFNET). The short duration training in Scuba diving is conducted by various private agencies in India, which support employment generation in the deep sea fishing and resource utilization, mapping and assessment. The jobs are also available in KVKs as SMS (Subject Matter Specialist) for fishery post graduates for conducting various training and extension activities.
Job opportunities in Government and Academic Sector:
There are large number of opportunities in the aquaculture and marine sector to work as a marine biologist/marine scientist, fish farm hand like hatchery/farm operator, fisheries extension officer/ technical officer, feed mill manager, processing and production manager, fish export inspector, export manager, R&D professional, aquaculture entrepreneur, consultant in management of fish farms, both in private and govt. sector, business establishments etc. Good career options for fisheries and aquaculture graduates are available with a variety of employers, including state and central government agencies, academic institutions and fish farms. Government agencies and industry recruit positions like aquaculture farmer, shellfish culturist, hatchery technician, biological science technician, fish research assistant etc.
State Government Jobs:
At present, there is great paucity of skilled manpower in the area of designing, construction, management of fish farms and hatcheries in the States. Every State Government is having fisheries department in which fisheries graduate can apply for the post of Assistant Fisheries Development Officer (AFDO)/ Fisheries Extension Officer (FEO) and District Fisheries Development Officer (DFDO). Graduates in fisheries can work as fishery biologist, hatchery manager, research technician, supervisor, fish project manager, fish culturist, wild life technician, curator in aquarium including field assistants etc. The qualifications for these positions are from 10th standard to Masters in Fishery Sciences. Skill based fishery education is also being imparted through vocational schools after 10th standard for engaging them on farm and hatchery system.
The graduate degree holders in aquaculture can also seek management positions with a variety of organizations, including central government agencies for positions like Aquaculture Coordinator, Aquatic Animal Health Coordinator and Deputy Manager etc. Candidates having degree (B. F. Sc.) can apply for the post of Research Assistant, Biochemist, Biologist, Technicians etc. Candidates having Postgraduate (M. F. Sc.) can apply for the post of Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Fisheries. For the recruitment as scientists in various agricultural and fisheries Institutions under the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), ASRB (Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board) conducts an All India Competitive Exam, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) followed by viva-voce and also based on their performance for admission for management programmes, higher fisheries academic degree through fellowship programme of ICAR. Central Agencies like Marine Product Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Fisheries Survey of India (FSI) etc. also provide good career opportunities for the fisheries graduates. Fisheries graduates can get jobs as a field officer, managers in agriculture loan section in nationalized as well as private banks as a specialized officer.
The UG students can avail opportunities in fish culture, breeding, fish processing and fishery extension starting from pond preparation to stocking, nutrition management, harvesting, cell of the produce etc. Majority of the fishery graduates and PG students get jobs in farm, hatchery management, fish processing and feed sectors in India/ abroad. Many students are serving in ICAR institutions, KVKs, State Fisheries Department, NGOs and Universities.
In addition the fisheries graduates are also engaged in Govt. and private firms in dairy processing unit, mineral water plants, processing industry, indoor fish farms, quarantine units at airport authorities at the airport, State Govt. health department, public health engineering department in state and central government as analysts, pond health manager on the similar lines of soil health manager. In marketing they can be engaged in private companies to promote aqua-medicine, pro-biotics, detro-digest, feed, pond sanitizer, cage implants, supply agents, implements of fishing boats, aerators, pumps etc.
Opportunities for Self employment:
As an entrepreneur, after obtaining the professional degree in B.F.Sc. one can start one’s own enterprise. The financial support can be obtained through NABARD, MPEDA, NFDB or through other nationalized banks. The main area in which fisheries enterprise can be developed are feed manufacturing, marketing and sales, ornamental fish culture and breeding, aquaculture, hatchery and seed production, commercial pearl production, fish processing and marketing, net making, fish disease diagnostic centre, consultancy services and establishment of agri-clinics. Government and World Bank are also supporting to develop fishing industry by assistance in terms of subsidies and finance where large scale avenues exist for the fishery professionals.
In fishing and oceanography the increasing demand for sea food, sea based medicines and grooming of eco-friendly industries is likely to create a huge demand for oceanographers. Fishing is one of the areas in fishery sector. Participating in deep sea exploration has tremendous scope. Scientist with research has desire for research can participates in Antarctic expedition for exploring new and valuable resources. Fishery graduates are also engaged as aquarium curators to acquire new specimens for displays and exhibits for execution and for safe transportation and delivery process.
Opportunities in Natural Resource Management:
On a post high school education one can choose a field of natural resource management that interests him. The choices are many: fisheries management, wildlife management, range management, forestry, soils, hydrology, wildlife law enforcement, environmental education, park management, outdoor recreation, aquaculture, oceanography and others. Students with bachelor of science degree in fisheries biology, wildlife management, aquatic ecology or related field are appointed as entry level technicians and work with a career counsellor to learn about specific fields of study in natural resources. The work involves such as raising fish for stocking into public fishing waters, propagating species for recovery programs, developing propagation techniques, conducting genetic research. Management biologists engaged as designing farming practices to improve fish populations and fishing opportunities for anglers, included fish stocking, water level manipulation, vegetation control, fertilization and liming of water, development of fishing regulations, in-stream and off-stream habitat improvement projects and conducting environmental impact assessments.
Natural Resource Educationalists are responsible to work with resource management agencies, parks and recreation departments, nature centres, camps, private organizations, youth education organizations, and some private corporations. They design, implement and manage education programs that foster the resource goals and philosophies of the organization.
National/ State Fishery Institutes:
1.Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Versova, Mumbai
2. Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa,
3. Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi
4. Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture, Chennai
5. Central Institute of Food Technology, Kochi
6. Central Inland Capture Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpur, West Bengal
7. National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources, Lucknow
8. Directorate of Coldwater Fisheries Research, Nainital, Uttarakhand
9. Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training, Kochi
10. National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa,
11. Central Food Technology and Research Institute, Mysore
12. Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kochi
13. Tamilnadu Fisheries University, Nagapattinam, Tamilnadu,
14. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagur, West Bengal
15. Andhra University, Telibagh, Waltair, Andhra Pradesh
16. Goa University, Goa
17. Berhampur University, Berhampur, Odisha
18. Mangalore University, Mangalore, Karnataka
19. Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi
20. CAS in Marine Biology, Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar, Tamilnadu 
21. Barakatullah University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Fisheries Colleges under State Agricultural/ Veterinary Universities:
1. College of Fisheries, Shirgaon, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
2. College of Fishery Science, Telangkhedi, Nagpur, Maharashtra
3. College of Fisheries, Mangalore, Karnataka
4. College of Fisheries, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu
5. College of Fisheries, Panangad, Kochi
6. College of Fisheries Science, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand
7. Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, Punjab
8. College of Fisheries, Dholi, RAU, Bihar
9. College of Fisheries, CAU, Agartala, Tripura
10. Institute of Fisheries Technology, Thiruvallur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
11. Post Graduate College of Fisheries, Osmania University, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
12. College of Fisheries, Udaipur, Rajasthan
13. College of Fisheries Science, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh
14. College of Fisheries Science, Kulia, West Bengal
15. College of Fisheries, Rangailuna, Berhampur, Orissa
16. College of Fisheries, Veraval, Gujarat
17. College of Fisheries, Raha, AAU, Assam
18. College of Fishery Science, Udgir, Maharashtra
19. College of Fishery Science, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
20. College of Fisheries, Raipur, Chhatishgarh
(The Lists are indicative only)
The author is presently working in the Department of Biotechnology as Scientist "G" and Advisor, dealing with the Programme area Animal and Aquaculture Biotechnology. The views expressed are personal.
 Image: Courtesy Google