Juvenile fishing practices cause huge loss to Kerala’s fisheries sector

CMFRI principal scientist TM Najmudeen said that refraining from exploiting the young stocks won’t only help fishermen increase their income but also aid in reviving the fishery.
A fishing harbour in Kerala
A fishing harbour in Kerala
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A report published by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) located in Kerala’s Kochi, has found that juvenile fishing practice continues to be a major challenge in the state’s marine fisheries sector. According to the report, 31% of threadfin breams (Kilimeen) caught from the Kerala coast last year were juveniles (below the Minimum Legal Size- MLS) and this has incurred a loss of Rs 178 crore to the fisheries sector. Apart from this, juvenile fishing of Indian oil sardines caused a loss of Rs 137 crore, said the report. The report was presented by CMFRI principal scientist TM Najmudeen in a workshop attended by representatives of fishermen, boat owners and allied workers on Friday, June 16.

The CMFRI case study to analyse the impact of the MLS implementation on the state’s marine fisheries found that standing stock biomass, yield, and recruitment numbers of the fish registered a substantial increase of 27% , 47% and 64% respectively after the regulation (MLS) was put in place. However, 82% of sharks, which are not covered by the MLS regulations, caught in 2022 were below their size at first maturity. The fisheries sector incurs a loss of Rs 45,4000 when fishing one tonne of juvenile oil sardines.

Najmudeen said that in 2022, juvenile fishing was increasingly reported during the trawling ban period as against the previous years, while unscientific practice is on a declining trend ever since the MLS was implemented in the state. He pointed out that refraining from exploiting the young stocks won’t only help fishermen increase their income but also aid in reviving the fishery.

Other experts who participated in the discussion asserted the need for including more fishes under MLS regulation and revising the existing MLS of certain fishes.

Referring to the uniform implementation of the MLS regulations, CMFRI director Dr A Gopalakrishnan said that CMFRI had suggested this to all the coastal states, but only Kerala and Karnataka stepped in to implement it.

The representatives of fishermen and fishing boat owners demanded that the MLS regulations be implemented across the country and sought a special package to compensate for the loss while abstaining from juvenile fishing. They also urged to restrict the entry of fishing boats from other states to the Kerala coast and stop the issuance of licences to all new boats. 


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