N.G.K. Pillai has had a distinguished career as a marine fisheries researcher, serving CMFRI between 1978 and 2010. He joined the institute as a young researcher and retired as its director in-charge.

He says CMFRI has grown into a repository of a large volume of priceless data on marine fisheries. In fact, he says that no Indian Ocean rim country has as much data as compiled and generated by CMFRI.

He says that initiatives in mariculture under stalwarts like former director of the institute Dr. E.G. Silas and launch of an M.Sc. course in mariculture under affilliation to Cochin University of Science and Technology were landmarks in the life of the institute, which is still the country’s main stay when it comes to fish resources.

The M.Sc. course was later discontinued at CMFRI and relocated to the Central Institute of Fisheries Education in Mumbai.

Dr. Pillai recalled how CMFRI was instrumental in making breakthroughs in pearl farming and production; in pearl oyster breeding and seed production; in edible oyster farming and developing hatcheries.

He feels that with mariculture in focus, not sufficient attention may be paid to capture fisheries, which will form the backbone of fish landings in the country over the next 10 to 15 years. There should be adequate emphasis on wild harvest, monitoring of resources and study of the biology of major species, says Dr. Pillai, who began his career at the Mandapam centre of CMFRI, doing elaborate studies on silver bellies.

The dramatic changes in climatic conditions are shifting the ground below the fisheries sciences now. Oil sardine landings are now reported from across most maritime states against the previous experience of Kerala being the most important coast for the catch, he says.

Dr. Pillai also feels that CMFRI should be instrumental in helping maritime states come out with their own fishing policies because the institute is in possession of such vast data on fisheries resources and fish landings over the last six decades.

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