Fishermen worried over poor rainfall
Worried that the drastic shortfall in monsoon rainfall might cut into fish catch, the fishing community is returning to the sea at predawn on Wednesday after a gap of 47 days.
Over 2,000 mechanised boats owned by Keralites and over 500 from Tamil Nadu will go to the outer sea after the monsoon ban on trawling that has forced them ashore all these days ends on Tuesday midnight. During this enforced vacation, most of the boats received a fresh coat of paint, annual maintenance work and repairs.
Workers at fishing harbours and fish-landing centres along Kerala’s shoreline are giving final touches to the boats in order to make them sea-worthy. Nets are being mended, fishing gears are being tended and the shore is poised to become lively once again.
However, the fish workers and boat owners are worried—the southwest monsoon has let them down. Two months into the monsoon, rainfall has been only a little over a third of its normal self. Good rainfall is important for spawning and regeneration of fish, particularly for pelagic fish such as oil sardine and mackerel as well as prawns.
The rain water, it is pointed out, washes the nutrients in the top soil down to the sea. These nutrients help the growth of planktons on which the fish feed. The phenomenon of ‘chaakara’ along Kerala’s shoreline is directly linked to this. The rainfall also causes disturbances in the sea and adds to the undercurrents, thus driving up fish upwards to the water surface. But, seafood such as squid and cuttlefish are not affected by the rainfall.
Various studies have found that the monsoon ban on trawling is an effective means of fish resources management as the month-and-a-half-long fishing holiday helps regeneration of fish species. However, this year, the operation of foreign fishing vessels in India’s waters on a large scale during the ban period must have harmed the resources, fish workers’ leaders and boat owners say. These huge fishing vessels with sophisticated technology were sweeping the sea and hurting the gains made by the trawling ban, Charles George, a fishing-sector trade union leader, alleged.
Keywords: Trawling ban