The State maritime fisheries sector may have lost up to Rs.1,267 crore during 2015 to juvenile fishing, a practice banned by the State government in August last year when it imposed minimum legal size for a group of eight fish, four crustacean and two molluscan stocks.
The calculation is based on the analysis of a comparatively rich catch of different varieties of threadfin breams (kilimeen) during 2015 by scientists at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
The figures released by the CMFRI showed that ‘kilimeen’ landings during 2015 stood at 42,220 tonnes, 55.5 per cent more than that in the previous year. Seventy-eight to eighty per cent of the catch comprised fish below the minimum legal size of 120 mm. Considering the quantum of juveniles, the scientists said, fishermen may have lost up to Rs.1,267 crore.
If the entire quantity comprised adult fish, the earnings would have been Rs.1,405 crore instead of the actual Rs.138 crore at the current market price.
The study also said that the size of mackerels landed on Kerala coast ranged between 105 mm and 260 mm, the average size being 179 mm against the minimum prescribed size of 140 mm. Only three per cent of the catch fell within the minimum legal size category. The study also said that 42 to 45 per cent of the mackerel catch comprised non-adults. Total mackerel catch in Kerala during 2015 stood at 39,881 tonnes against the 2011-2015 yearly average landings of 27,835 tonnes, figures from the CMFRI said. In the case of oil sardines, the catch comprised fish size ranging between 45 mm and 220 mm against the minimum legal size of 100 mm.
The average catch size was 131.2 mm. Sardines in the size 100 mm to 170 mm comprised 76.6 per cent of the catch. Between 23 and 38 per cent of the anchovies (natholi) catch too comprised non-adults, the CMFRI analysis said. Ten varieties of anchovies are landed in Kerala.
The scientists also found that 40 to 80 per cent of the rays landed in Kerala fell into the adult category.