Kerala seeks other States’ aid to curb juvenile fishing

June 04, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 04:06 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Steps also to notify the minimum legal size of 44 commercially important marine species

The Kerala government is seeking the support of other south Indian States to curb the overexploitation of marine fish stocks.

A meeting of Fisheries Ministers from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala is being planned to regulate the catch of juvenile fish. Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty Amma has directed the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to organise the inter-State consultation.

The government is simultaneously taking steps to notify the minimum legal size (MLS) of 44 commercially important marine species.

As many as 14 species — eight fish, four crustacean, and two molluscs — have already been notified based on the recommendations of the CMFRI. Boats found bringing in fish juveniles can be impounded and operators fined up to Rs. 50,000, depending on the weight of the catch.

The MLS sets the smallest size at which a particular species can be legally retained, if caught. It is a fisheries management tool to protect juvenile fish, maintain spawning stocks, and control the numbers and size of fish caught.

CMFRI director A. Gopalakrishnan said the inter-State meeting assumed importance in the light of the curbs on juvenile fishing imposed by the Kerala government. The meeting, he said, was expected to finalise the MLS of important species in the waters along the southern coast.

“With vessels from the three States operating in the same waters, it becomes difficult to impose the restrictions on juvenile fishing unless there is an understanding between the governments. We have already received a request from the Karnataka government seeking data on the MLS prescribed for 58 species,” Dr. Gopalakrishnan told The Hindu .

Boat operators feel that standardisation of fishing vessels and gear is imperative across the three States if juvenile fishing is to be regulated. They point out that the strict enforcement of the ban on catching different species of juvenile fish in Kerala had led to uncontrolled exploitation by vessels from other States.

Fish meal plants

According to fisheries officials, tonnes of juvenile fish and other marine organisms were being caught by mechanised fishing vessels catering to the requirement of fish meal plants outside Kerala.

Dr. Gopalakrishnan said the meeting would also discuss the need to discourage fishmeal plants from buying the notified species and prescribe the mesh size of nets to regulate juvenile fishing.

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