Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ecologists worry about capture of juvenile sardines

It could lead to destruction of precious fisheries resources: The landing of more than a hundred tonnes of juvenile sardines, measuring between 8 and 11 cm, on World Fisheries Day at the Thottappilly Fishing Harbour, Alappuzha, was a cause of worry for conservationists, who saw the incident as one of many acts of “wanton” destruction of precious fisheries resources.

Juvenile sardine catch at the Thottappilly fishing harbour on November 21, which is observed as World Fisheries Day.

The catch was not sent for sale to the market, but was packed off to a fish meal factory in Mangalore, a scientist involved in marine fisheries conservation activities told The Hindu. A few of these factories have recently been set up in Kerala too.

He said that fishermen had been reporting these incidents quite often. Charles George, president of Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi, a forum for fishermen’s unions, had recently said that juvenile catch was a destroying precious resources and hurting the livelihoods of traditional fishermen.

“It is quite pathetic to understand this valuable fish resource is being destroyed by ring seine fishing,” said the conservationist.

It has been reported that large quantities of major fish varieties like sardine, mackerel and nemipterus (kilimeen), which are major items in the daily fish markets in the State are being captured and sent to fish meal factories, he added.

There appears to be no means of controlling such destructive practices, the conservationist pointed out.

He cited CMFRI data to show that sardine catch in 2013 was only one lakh tonnes, against the 3.9 lakh tonnes in 2012.

During that year, sardine catch contributed about 46 per cent of the total fish landings in Kerala.

The situation in this year “will be disastrous” if the practices of destructive fishing continue, he said and warned that sending juvenile catch to fish meal factories would end up with destruction of livelihood means for several lakhs of people.

Fishing harbours in other parts of the Kerala, too, have been witness of juvenile catch landings and threw was a big issue at the Chettuva fishing harbour in Thrissur district a few months ago, he said.

The fish workers refused to handle the juvenile fish landed at the harbour and only the intervention of the political leaders and the district administration ended the dispute, he added.

Courtesy of the Hindu