From nascent and humble start as Fisheries Research Station in March, 1947, and through its metamorphosis into Central Inland Fisheries Research Station and finally as an Institute in 1961, ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute has significant scientific and technological contribution for enabling sustainability of Indian open water fisheries. Inland open water fishery sector occupies a unique status in the national economy and provides livelihood opportunities, food and nutritional security and massive ecosystem services to the growing population in the country. India is richly endowed with vast inland open waters in the form of rivers and canals (0.195 million km), reservoirs (3.51 million ha), floodplain wetlands (0.35 million ha), estuaries (0.26 million ha) and large areas under lagoons and backwaters. These resources provide employment and livelihood support to 1.24 million inland fishers including landless. However, over-exploitation of natural fish stocks, ecosystem degradation, man-made modifications for water diversion, pollution, etc., are the major threats for these aquatic resources. Further, in the event of mounting anthropogenic pressure and perceptible climatic changes, it becomes emergent to protect these resources for sustained fisheries and harness their untapped production potentials.
In this backdrop, major thrust areas of research by the institute are captive breeding and culture of Hilsa; fisheries enhancement and management in reservoirs and floodplain wetlands including pen and cage culture; assessment and conservation of fisheries in riverine and estuarine system including mangroves; habitat fingerprinting; impact assessment of hydrological changes (E-flow) on fish stocks and food chain; water governance and management; mapping and monitoring of open inland fishery resources through GIS & Remote sensing platform; benchmarking for the aquatic ecosystem health sustenance; pollution abatement; fish disease surveillance in inland open waters; conservation of fish biodiversity and propagation of SIFs; time series data mining of existing databases of inland aquatic resources and fisheries; developing capability towards climate resilient fisheries etc. In addition to that, more focus has to be given on the expert advisory systems for inland fisheries management; models for resource assessment, management and forecasting; valuation of ecosystem goods and services; participatory management of aquatic resources for improved productivity, ecosystem goods and services and livelihood support; knowledge strengthening and capacity building to address challenges in inland open waters. Further, emphasis would be given on basic and strategic research in the frontier areas of biological sciences viz., genomics, metagenomics, proteomics and nanotechnology for sustainable management of inland aquatic ecosystems. Again, a major responsibility has been bestowed upon ICAR-CIFRI as a partner in the ambitious project of National Mission on Clean Ganga under Namami Gange for assessment of fish and fisheries of Ganga river system and developing suitable conservation and restoration plan.
Due importance has to be given to the FARMERS FIRST Program of ICAR. Under Mera Gaon Mera Gourav program, 50 villages have been selected in West Bengal, where scientists of ICAR-CIFRI Headquarter are visiting in 10 groups, under which strong linkages have to be developed among the farmers and scientists. In the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) various activities have been taken up in Sunderban areas for the development of tribal fishers. ICAR-CIFRI is actively engaged in imparting training and capacity building, HRD, Extension and Scientist-Farmers contact programs for the overall development of the sector. Institute has initiated collaborative research on Hilsa and restoration of Chilika lagoon with international agencies like BOBLME, IUCN, IWMI, NOFIMA, World Fish Center, BFRI and World Bank. Further, ICAR-CIFRI has been partners in various national level research projects in collaboration with IITs, Chilika Development Authority (CDA), other ICAR Fisheries Research Institutes, Universities and State Fisheries Departments.
I am a strong believer in coordinated efforts in science and look forward to engage the whole scientific community in generating new knowledge and new endeavour on a professional scale and sensitivity, and to facilitate action to convert all our efforts into well deserved recognitions at the institutional level, as well as personally and professionally. I am confident that we join hands resolutely to make brand ICAR-CIFRI to outshine nationally and globally in the years ahead.