Special Correspondent

Fisheries Department closely monitoring the situation

Scientists see no possibility of spreading to Kerala

Fishermen told to report any unnatural phenomenon

Thiruvananthapuram: The Fisheries Department has joined hands with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working among fisherfolk to keep a close watch on the offshore areas of Kerala, following the mass mortality of marine organisms due to an algal bloom in the sea off the Mandapam-Keezhakarai coast in Tamil Nadu over the last few days.

According to scientists, the possibility of the algal bloom spreading to the Kerala coast was remote because of the diverse hydrography of the East and West coasts. But the authorities are playing it safe. Fisheries director Sheikh Pareed said the department was closely monitoring the situation. “We are in touch with the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS). Fishermen putting out to sea have been instructed to report any discolouration of the seawater or dead fish floating on the surface,” he said.

According to K. Padmakumar, Department of Aquatic Biology, University of Kerala, algal blooms caused by the rapid proliferation of a species of marine plankton were common in the post-monsoon period. Mr. Padmakumar who coordinates the Vizhinjam-Kollam ocean stretch of the All-India Coordinated Programme on Harmful Algae funded by the Department of Ocean Development said the blooms were an annual phenomenon.

An algal bloom, sometimes referred to as ‘Red Tide’ phenomenon, leads to the depletion of oxygen in water, causing the death of other marine species. Scientists believed that blooms were often triggered by excess nitrogen and phosphorous content in seawater, mostly from fertiliser residue washed out from land.

Mr. Padmakumar said fishermen had been asked to report any unnatural phenomenon at sea. There have been no reports so far, he added.