Juvenile edible fish is being sold to fertilizer companies

Destructive and trash fishing by some in the mechanical and traditional fishing sectors threatens to deplete marine wealth off the Kollam waters, say the district unit leaders of the Kerala Fisheries Coordination Council (KFCC).

Huge quantities of edible fish juveniles were being harvested and brought to the Neendakara-Shakthikulangara twin fishing habours and the Azheekkal fishing harbour by the boats every day, leaders of the council said at a press conference here on Monday. Similarly, large quantities of fish that had no market value as human food were also being harvested and brought ashore.

District chairman of the council E. John and convener Iqbalkutty said several tonnes of trash and juvenile edible fish were being sold to the fertilizer manufacturing companies in Tamil Nadu each day from the twin fishing harbours here for nothing more than Rs.10 per kg.

The Fisheries Department was not at all bothered about this trend, they alleged.

The juvenile edible fish lost in this manner included ribbon fish, mackerels, sardines, and mullets. The trash fish were part of the food chain of many larger edible fish. The trend had led to depletion in mullets that formed food for docile marine animals called porpoises.

Earlier, huge shoals of mullets would enter the estuary to spawn during high tide, inviting large presence of porpoises to the area. But now the mullet inflow was scanty. As a consequence, porpoises were beginning to turn destructive, as could be gauged from the increasing attacks on fishing nets at the estuarine area of Shakthikulangara.

It was through the method of using surface and submersible lights for fishing that such edible juvenile and trash fishes were scooped and brought ashore, Mr. John said. While one mature ribbon fish could weigh a kilo gram, it would take more than 30 juveniles to attain that weight. Each day, more than 5 tonnes of ribbon fish juveniles alone were being taken to Tamil Nadu from the twin harbours, he said.

This was considerably depleting the marine wealth of the traditional fishing grounds off the Kollam waters. In turn, it was affecting the livelihood of bona fide fishermen. All this was happening at a time when the government was allocating huge funds for augmenting the marine wealth through various projects like sea ranching.

Mr. Iqbalkutty said if the Fisheries Department failed to take steps to stop the menace, the council would be compelled to launch strong agitations at all the three harbours.

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