State seeks help to stop juvenile fish catch

February 02, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:51 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

The Fisheries Department is seeking the cooperation of other coastal States to regulate the catching of juvenile fishes, even as fishers and boat operators in Kerala are up in arms against the unchecked exploitation of fish stocks by mechanised vessels operating from neighbouring States.

Fishers allege that the strict enforcement of the ban on catching different species of juvenile fishes in Kerala had led to uncontrolled exploitation by vessels from other States.

Last July, the State government had notified the Minimum Legal Size (MLS) for eight fish, four crustacean, and two molluscan stocks.

The notification was issued after it had come to the notice of the government that tonnes of juvenile fishes and other marine organisms were being caught by mechanised fishing vessels catering to the requirement of fish meal plants outside Kerala.

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) had warned that the reckless exploitation would lead to heavy depletion of fish stocks, affecting the livelihood of fishermen.

“Ever since the government banned the catch of juveniles, enforcement officials in Kerala have been on overdrive, initiating stern action against boats landing at harbours in the State. While this led to a drastic reduction in the catch of juveniles here, it left the field open for vessels from neighbouring States to plunder the stocks,” says Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, general secretary, All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.

Fishermen say the Muttom harbour in Tamil Nadu has turned out to be a major landing centre for juvenile fishes caught from the waters off Kerala.

It is reported that most of the juvenile fishes that are landed at Muttom are transported to fish meal plants.

“The diversion of catch to Muttom and the depletion of fish stocks in local waters have seriously deprived fishing harbours in Kerala of business,” says Mr. Joseph.

Fishers say ban

on juvenile fish catch has led to exploitation by other States.

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