Juvenile fishing causing unease among traditional fishers

Juvenile fishing, mostly for fishmeal factories, off the coast of Kerala continues to cause unease in the fishing community, and the newly constituted fishers’ forum, Matsya Thozhilali Samyukta Samiti, has called for a protest action on October 11.

Though the State government had notified the minimum legal size (MLS) for 14 commercially important fish species in July 2015, traditional fishers and most boat owners have complained of some trawlers resorting to destructive practices, including pair or bull trawling. Pair trawling involves using two boats to pull a massive net that trawls through the entire depth of the sea, catching juveniles as well and causing immense damage to the sea floor.

While Fisheries Department sources said it had been taking stringent action against destructive practices, including juvenile fishing and destructive trawling practices, they called for creating awareness among fishers.

Jackson Pollayil of the Samyukta Samiti and leader of the Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, an independent union of fishers, said the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association had also opposed destructive practices, and that only a small number of trawlers violated rules. He added that juveniles were caught for fishmeal factories and caused immense damage to the marine fish stock.

He alleged that the Fisheries Department had failed to initiate action against trawlers engaged in destructive practices and called for more vigil on its part. He also said traditional fishers had taken to preventing juvenile fishing and pair trawling off the coasts of Kollam and Alappuzha.

Mr. Jackson said three trawlers were seized by fishers off Alappuzha and two off the coast of Beypore and handed over to the Fisheries Department recently.

A department official said more boats had been seized for violation of MLS rules in September compared to previous months. The official added that five boats had been fined last month off the Thiruvananthapuram coast.

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) had recommended MLS for 58 commercially important species on the basis of which the MLS for 14 species had been notified.

The CMFRI had said that juveniles were being caught for fishmeal factories, and that exploitation of juvenile fish resulted in economic loss. Juvenile fishing threatens long-term sustainability, and MLS is used as a tool for resource preservation.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 8:59:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/juvenile-fishing-causing-unease-among-traditional-fishers/article36868828.ece

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