The Department of Fisheries has intensified vigil in Ernakulam district against juvenile fishing in the wake of reports from other parts of the State of widespread violation of law on minimum legal size for fishes to be caught and sold commercially.
A Fisheries Department official said that the marine enforcement wing was making frequent checks on catches being landed at centres like Munambam in the wake of the reports from Kollam that a lobby was active in selling fish juveniles to fishmeal factories outside the State.
The official said that landing of fish juveniles was not frequent in the district and that activities in places like Kollam could influence fishermen here.
Officials in Marine Products Export Development Authority’s fish conservation wing NETFISH had reported that juvenile fishing had recently been reported from fishing harbours in Kollam district. They expressed their suspicion that a lobby supplying juveniles to fishmeal factories in Mangalore and Thoothukudi was behind the development.
The catch of juvenile reported from the southern district included commercially important species like ribbon fish, threadfin breams, mackerel and leather jacket. With estimated volumes like 10,000 to 20,000 kgs per boat per day, the losses were considerable as juveniles grow to commercial size within a short span and fetch much higher price.
While juveniles are reportedly sold for Rs. 15 a kg, full-grown fishes fetch not less than Rs. 150 a kg. Sources said that at times the juveniles are not caught with the connivance of the boat owners. Fishing boat operators and traditional fishermen had reached an agreement in July 2015 not to engage in juvenile fishing. The agreement on self regulation was reached in the wake of an unprecedented fall in marine fish landings in the State.