Fishers divided over fishmeal factory proposal

The fisher community is divided over the benefits of a fishmeal factory in the State as recently proposed by Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma.

T. Peter of the National Fish Workers’ Forum and Jackson Pollayil of the Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation said on Tuesday that the proposal that a fishmeal unit could be launched under the aegis of the State government was a cause for concern. They called for consistent steps by the government to conserve resources.

They said a fishmeal factory would make juvenile fishing a lucrative business. Juvenile fishing had come under consistent criticism as it had been described as a destructive mode in which a lot of value was lost if fishes were not allowed to grow beyond a certain size.

However, Xavier Kalapurackal of the Kerala Boat Operators Association said a fishmeal factory would ensure good value for catch even for traditional fishermen. He claimed that oil sardines had become dearer this season and sold for over ₹200 a kg frequently as a lot of the catch was being diverted to fishmeal factories outside Kerala.

He said when there was a surplus of catch most often it was dumped back into the sea. These catch could be utilised for making fishmeal.

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute had prescribed minimum legal size for 58 commercially important species in 2014. These included oil sardines, mackerels, scads, rays, etc. The measure was introduced as a conservation step. It was also suggested that fishers should be encouraged to release female crabs carrying eggs as a conservation measure.

Meanwhile, department sources said low-value fish caught in Kerala was now being transported to other States for fishmeal production. There were also non-edible fish varieties which could be turned into fishmeal.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 1:06:35 PM |

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