Fishermen not surprised as the previous year had witnessed a record catch

Fish landings in Kerala have dropped by 18 per cent during the first eight months of the calendar year with landing centres in central Kerala recording a fall as sharp as 27 per cent up to August. However, industry sources said the “trend was not alarming” as the post-monsoon peak season began only after August.

Data from one of the fisheries resources monitoring agencies showed that despite oil sardine catch rising eight per cent at landing centres in south Kerala between January and August this year, harbours in north and central Kerala saw a fall of five to six per cent in oil sardine catch.

“Approximate projection” for fish landings in the State up to August this year was 3.92 lakh tonnes compared to the 4.19 lakh tonnes for the same period last year, sources said.

Fish landings at south Kerala, central Kerala and north Kerala harbours up to August this year were 97,000 tonnes, 1.31 lakh tonnes and 1.63 lakh tonnes respectively. The figures were 1.04 lakh tonnes, 1.79 lakh tonnes and 1.96 lakh tonnes for the same period last year.

‘No surprise’

These figures for 2013 have not surprised fishermen because it has come after a record catch in 2012. Data from Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) showed that 2012 saw a record catch of 8.39 lakh tonnes, up more than a lakh tonnes from the previous year’s level of 7.43 lakh tonnes.

The CMFRI figures were, however, contested because data collated by the Department of Fisheries put 2012 landings at 5.60 lakh tonnes, a size held as the average marine fish landing in the State over the recent years.

“It is possible that fish catch this year is down after the peak year 2012,” said Charles George of Kerala Fisheries Coordination Committee, representing mostly the traditional sector. He also attributed the fall in fish catch up to August to hampered fishing activities in July and August.

Heavy rains during these months prevented fishermen from venturing out on most days.

Loss of fishing days was another reason for the current figures, he said.

Meanwhile, the CMFRI annual report for 2012-13 attributed the record catch during 2012 to increased production from pelagic resources.

The report also said that oil sardines constituted 47.6 per cent of the total marine fish landings along the Kerala coast in 2012 at 3.99 lakh tonnes, which was an increase of 24.1 per cent over the previous year.

On the high levels of oil sardine landings, the CMFRI report for 2012-13 noted, “The peak landings were recorded in the months of September and December.”

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