Fishermen want separate solutions to issues in marine, inland fisheries

Published - January 14, 2024 02:11 am IST - KOCHI

A meeting of fishermen, fish workers, and those in allied sectors, including aquaculturists, with experts, scientists, researchers, and policy-makers here on Saturday saw fishermen raising the demand for evolving separate solutions to problems confronting inland and marine fisheries sectors.

The discussion was organised under the aegis of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos). The fishermen, confronting diverse issues in inland and marine sectors urged policy-makers and government representatives to address their problems under separate heads.

Fishermen’s representatives pointed out the traditional problems within the fishing community being overlooked as a whole and the ineffectiveness of solutions. The meeting emphasised the need for individualised solutions for each community, stressing the importance of intervention from both Union and State governments in areas ranging from environmental pollution and aquaculture.

The participants highlighted that Kerala, with a 590 km coastal line, had 222 marine fishery workers’ villages and over a million marine fishery workers. More than 50% of these workers are women, mainly concentrated in fish retail marketing efforts. On the other hand, Kerala has over 2.38 lakh inland fishermen, whose livelihood involves harvesting fish primarily from the 44 rivers, five backwaters, and 81 reservoirs.

Concerns were raised about the dwindling marine catch due largely to overfishing and unscientific trawling. The meeting stressed the importance of fast-tracking initiatives to integrate fishery workers into the production processes of aquaculture.

The meeting highlighted a situation that necessitates immediate attention and collective efforts. Kerala has a staggering fish consumption volume, with the State’s average yearly fish consumption estimated at over 25 kg per head, surpassing the global average of 20.8 kg. However, the annual marine fish landings in the State stand at 5.5 lakh tonnes and inland fish landings at 1.7 lakh tonnes. They fall much short of the local demand of over 10 lakh tonnes. Approximately 40% of the demand is met through imports from neighbouring States and even countries such as Oman.

On the other hand, the plight of diligent fish farmers in Kerala is alarming. Aquaculturists too face serious problems as they face losses owing to a lack of demand for farm-fresh fish, leading some to close their aquaculture units.

Fishermen wanted the Fisheries department to engage in discussions with stakeholders, including local fishery workers and farmers, to formulate and implement effective solutions to challenges faced by the fisheries sector.

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