Marine Fisheries Census 2016: Tamil Nadu


The Marine Fisheries Census 2016: Tamil Nadu provides data on the number of active fisherfolk, occupation profiles of people surveyed and fishing-allied activities practiced in districts and villages across Tamil Nadu. The survey was conducted in thirteen coastal districts of the state: Thiruvallur, Chennai, Kancheepuram, Viluppuram, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Ramanathapuram, Thoothukkudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari.

The report includes details on religion and community, membership in co-operatives, families engaged in aquaculture, crafts used for fishing and access to lifesaving and electronic equipment.

The first Marine Fisheries Census in India was conducted by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in the year 1980. The next two censuses were organised in 2005 and 2010. Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s CMFRI conducted the survey for the 2016 census between February 1 and March 1, 2016.

The 308-page document is divided into five sections: Summary (Section 1); District-wise tables (Section 2); Village-wise tables (Section 3); List of marine fishing villages (Section 4) and List of landing centres (Section 5).


  1. The census found that the total fisherfolk population in Tamil Nadu was 795,708 people in 201,855 families. These were spread across 575 villages and 349 fish landing centres (defined as "the place or harbour where fishermen land their fishing craft with catch").

  2. Among all the fisherfolk, 274,417 were adult males and 262,434 were adult females. 

  3. As per the census, 183,683 fisherfolk families (91 per cent) in the state were living below the poverty line. The districts with the highest share of fisherfolk families were Kanniyakumari, Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam.

  4. Of the total number of families surveyed, 78 per cent lived in pucca houses. The census notes that 24 per cent of the houses where fisherfolk resided lacked toilet facilities.

  5. While most fishing families in the state relied on tap water for everyday use, Ramanathapuram recorded the largest number of houses belonging to fisherfolk that sourced water from wells (13,683 houses). Chennai had the highest number of houses relying on hand pumps (9,339) and Kanniyakumari had the greatest number of houses that relied on borewells (6,163).

  6. Of the total fishing population, 44 per cent had completed primary education and 37 per cent had finished higher secondary education. Only 10 per cent of the population had received education beyond higher secondary levels whereas nine per cent had completed graduation.

  7. Of the ‘active fisherfolk’ in Tamil Nadu, 200,690 people were engaged in full-time fishing whereas 17,661 were part-time fisherfolk. A few others (343 people) were involved in the collection of fish seeds.

  8. A total of 77,308 people surveyed were involved in fishing-allied activities. Around 35,835 people worked in selling or marketing the fish and 9,182 people made and repaired fishing nets. 6,783 people worked in processing and curing fish and 16,519 people in the fishing communities worked as labourers.

  9. Of the total number of marine fishing families in Tamil Nadu, 57 per cent were Hindus, 37 per cent were Christians and six per cent were Muslims. About five per cent of the families belonged to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

  10. As many as 70 per cent of fisherfolk in the 13 districts of the state were part of co-operative societies. Of these, 91 per cent were members of fishing co-operatives.

  11. Trawlers (89 per cent) and gill netters (seven per cent) accounted for most of the mechanised crafts in the state. Of the motorised variety, outboard fishing crafts (71 per cent) clearly outnumbered the inboard kind (29 per cent).

  12. The 13 districts of the state had 80 boat yards, 17 cold storages and 88 ice factories. They also housed 96 curing yards and 112 peeling sheds for processing fish.

    Focus and Factoids by Dhyanvi Katharani.


Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Government of India; Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India


Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Government of India; Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India