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Maharashtra: State records 22.5% drop in fish catch at ports: Scientists

According to the annual fish marine estimates of 2018, the Bombay duck or bombil, as it is commonly known, decreased nearly by 40 per cent whereas mackerel (bangda) by 44 per cent, in comparison to 2017, in Maharashtra.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
July 30, 2019 1:39:58 am
Maharashtra, Mumbai, Mumbai News, Fishing, maharashtra fishing, CMFRI, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, India, Indian Express A fisherman gestures as he holds a fish in Mahim. Express Photo by Karma Sonam Bhutia

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) raised a red flag over the fishing industry in the state, pointing to a steep decline in fish landings in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Karnataka.

Fish landings refer to the portion of fish catch that arrives at the ports. The estimate of marine fish landings along the coast of the mainland of India for 2018 is 3.49 million tonnes, showing a decline of about 3.47 lakh tonnes (close to 9 per cent) compared to 3.83 million tonnes in 2017.

According to the annual fish marine estimates of 2018, the Bombay duck or bombil, as it is commonly known, decreased nearly by 40 per cent whereas mackerel (bangda) by 44 per cent, in comparison to 2017, in Maharashtra.

In addition, the state also witnessed a major decline in marine fish landings catch. It fell to 2.95 lakh tonnes from 3.81 lakh tonnes in 2017, pointing to a decline of 22.5 per cent.

The fishermen’s association has blamed illegal mechanised fishing, use of trawlers that sweep the sea floor and the interest in catching high value and export worthy fish for the decline in the fish landing catch. “There are many factors that led to reduction in the fish landings. Extreme weather events such as cyclone Ockhi, Vayu resulted in the loss of fishing days. In addition, there is an increase in juvenile fish catching that has contributed to the decline,” said K V Akhilesh, senior scientist, CMFRI, Mumbai.

Catching of juvenile fish is terminology used for a fish catch much before it attains its maximum size or has reproduced even once.
These fish are used to make different kinds of processed food. Experts pointed to the need for the implementation of minimum legal size (MLS) and awareness programmes for fisherfolk to discourage them from catching juvenile fish, which will eventually show improvement in the catch.

The MLS is based on the maturity of fish, which allows fish to grow above the maturity size and give it a chance to spawn (lay eggs) at least once in a lifetime.

Other measures include change in the use of nets to 40 mm square mesh codends as opposed to traditional diamond-shaped nets, which measure 20 to 25 mm, picking up large quantities of juvenile fish. The scientists from CMFRI pointed towards Kerala being the only state that has “successfully implemented” the minimum legal size of mesh and the same was suggested for the state government.

Commenting on the data by CMFRI and efforts by the government, Anoop Kumar, Principal Secretary, animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries department, said, “There is a possibility that landing data is not perfect, I will have to check the report. The Sassoon Dock is under renovation, many boats are at present directed towards Raigad district and other ports outside the state, resulting in a reduction in fish landing in states.”

Kumar added, “In order to discourage juvenile catching of fish, we are offering fisherfolk cash incentives if they have proof to show that they released juvenile catch and endangered species, which has brought positive results. We have also implemented net size regulation and acted against those who do not comply.”

Among the nine maritime states, Gujarat topped in the landings with 7.8 lakh tonnes, followed by Tamil Nadu at 7.02 lakh tonnes and Kerala at 6.43 lakh tonnes. Maharashtra came in fourth with 2.95 lakh tonnes.

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