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Mackerel, sardine catch dips

Staff Reporter
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The bounty from the sea has dwindled in Kochi this year.

While the major fish landing centres across the State have recorded a reasonably good harvest, landings at Kochi have recorded a slight dip this year. It is the catch of small pelagic varieties, including the Indian mackerel (Aila) oil sardine (Chaala) and anchovy (Netholi in common parlance) that has gone down in Kochi when compared to other districts.

However, fisheries researchers of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi, which has been keeping a tab on the landings of each species from the Kerala coast, stated that there was no room for worry. Such variations in catches were normal, they said.

Scientific evaluation of the data on the fish landings indicated that there has not been an alarming fall in catch from the district. The average annual landing of fish in the district was around one lakh tonne during the 2007-2011 period. The catch during the first nine months of this year accounted to nearly 80,000 tonne.

There are 20 fish landings centres in the district with Munambam and Kochi Fisheries harbour leading the lot in terms of fish landing.

On an average, 20,000 tonne of oil sardine is netted in the district every year. This year, the harvest of the species has come up to 18,000 tonne till October. It was mackerel that was caught less from the waters of Kochi this year. Date available with the Institute showed that only 5,100 tonne could be caught this year against the annual average of 10,000 tonne. Netholi too was caught less in numbers. This year, the fishermen could get only 2,700 tonne till now. The average catch of the species from the district is to the tune of 4,000 tonne. Indications from the field also pointed out that catch during the last month was also not up to the expected levels, according to the fisheries researchers.

The Malabar region recorded a catch on the expected lines. Fishermen in Thrissur district got good catches whereas their counterparts in Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram fared reasonably well, researchers said.

A senior scientist attributed the dip in the catch in Kochi to some localised biological phenomena, which needs to be scientifically assessed. The number of fishing vessels targeting these species has also come down considerably in the district. The post-monsoon period is also considered as a lull period for fishing. These factors together account for reduced availability of fish, he said.

Though the pelagic catch was not up to the expected levels, the fishermen netted good quantities of 'kilimeen', prawns and some other species from the district, he said.

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