Juvenile fishing: State tightens noose

The illegal practice is rampant in many places ever since the trawl ban is in force

July 20, 2022 06:39 pm | Updated 07:59 pm IST - KOLLAM

A juvenile fish catch on the  Kollam coast recently. Authorities have found juvenile fishing rampant in many places and the fishers have been using nets with smaller mesh size for the purpose.

A juvenile fish catch on the Kollam coast recently. Authorities have found juvenile fishing rampant in many places and the fishers have been using nets with smaller mesh size for the purpose. | Photo Credit: C. SURESHKUMAR

As juvenile fishing for the fish meal fish oil (FMFO) industry is on the rise, the Fisheries department has strengthened enforcement measures under the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2017, to prevent the illegal practice.

Around 30 fishing vessels from the district were caught with juvenile catch this financial year while more than ₹13 lakh, including ₹2.54 lakh from auctioning the edible fish on the boats, was collected by the department. “All these are traditional boats and a good portion of the bycatch was small sardines and mackerels. If more than 25% of the total catch are juveniles, the boats will be fined,” said K. Suhair, Deputy Director, Fisheries department, here on Wednesday.

Since the trawl ban is in force, the authorities had found juvenile fishing rampant in many places, and the fishers have been using nets with smaller mesh size for the purpose. A major reason for the depletion of marine resources, capturing juveniles can cause serious consequences affecting biodiversity and the livelihood of fishers.

“Curbing juvenile exploitation is very crucial when it comes to maintaining marine resources. At present, the department is conducting an intensive enforcement drive in all coastal districts across Kerala as per the direction of the Fisheries Director,” he added.

Action was taken against violations by strengthening patrolling with the help of the Marine Enforcement wing. The department had penalised boats operating from the Thangassery, Neendakara and Azheekkal harbours in the district. In Alappuza, vehicles transporting juveniles were seized by the department while inspections have been intensified in all fish landing centres and harbours.

As part of promoting sustainable fishing practices and to conserve marine resources, the State government has set minimum legal size for 58 species of fish/shrimp/squid/clam available off the Kerala coasts. These commercially important species have reported a dip in production due to various factors and the rule was introduced to protect immature fish and maintain spawning stocks. Of late, many boats have been targeting juveniles, including small pelagics, not allowing the species to grow.

“Fishers from many parts are cooperating with the department reporting juvenile catch. Strict action will be taken against boats indulging in juvenile fishing and if they continue to violate the norm, their licence and registration will be cancelled," said the Deputy Director.

The department has urged the public to report the violations they notice and the officials can be contacted on 04762680036 or 9496007036.

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