Kerala’s fisheries sector is suffering a huge economic loss owing to uncontrolled juvenile fishing, according to the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
A study by CMFRI says the most caught juveniles last year were of threadfin breams that caused a loss of an estimated ₹221 crore to the fisheries sector in the State last year. The report was prepared as part of CMFRI’s research project for developing a fisheries management plan for the sector.
Apart from loss to the economy, juvenile fishing badly affects the biological factors of marine ecosystem, according to the report. The unscientific practice leads to disruption in recruitment and spawning stock biomass of the fish.
T.M. Najmudeen, principal scientist at CMFRI and the principal investigator of the project, presented the report at a stakeholders’ meeting held at CMFRI to discuss the studies conducted by the institute last year. Representatives of fishermen’s associations, trade unions, seafood exporters’ association, Wildlife Trust of India, and officials of the Fisheries Department were present at the meeting, said a press release here.
E.M. Abdussamad, principal scientist at CMFRI, explained the reasons behind the fall in landing of oil sardine in Kerala in the last few years. According to him, unfavourable climatic conditions following El Nino had badly affected the spawning and growth pattern of oil sardine. However, the landing of oil sardine has registered a substantial increase of 176% in 2017 compared to 2016.
During the meeting, fishermen demanded that the Kerala model Minimum Legal Size (MLS) regulation be implemented in the neighbouring States too. According to them, the curb on juvenile fishing will be meaningful only if there is uniformity in implementing regulations across the country.
The fishermen also wanted CMFRI to study the migratory pattern of the demersal fishery resources. Studies are also required on fish varieties like white fish whose availability is coming down. They also asked CMFRI to take steps to reduce the fleet size as a solution to reduce overfishing.