A rapid assessment by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) in the wake of the devastating floods that ravaged Kerala this monsoon has pegged the loss in the livelihood of fishermen involved in inland fishing at Rs 93.72 crores. Losses incurred due to damage to craft and gear in inland and marine capture fisheries have been estimated at Rs 10.96 crores.
Eight teams of scientists and researchers were constituted who spread across Kerala to visit major flood-affected areas and make detailed assessments. The key parameters to estimate losses were determined as damage to crafts and gears, livelihood and ecology.
“Many of the fishing gear and accessories were washed away from the stacking sites. The fishing crafts were washed away and damaged by hitting against obstacles. Total loss due to damage or washing away of crafts, gear and engine is about Rs 6.72 crores in inland fisheries system and Rs 4.24 crores in the marine system,” a CIFT release stated.
The districts most affected by floods with inland fishing systems were Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thrissur districts whereas Malappuram and Kollam districts were more affected in marine fisheries sector. Researchers of CIFT said fishermen reported the loss of labour days, wages and reduction in fish catch during the floods. At the same time, it would not be possible to specify a time-frame by which the situation in the fisheries sector would normalise, CIFT said.
Apart from the loss in livelihoods, there has been extensive damage to marine environment such as a change in the course of rivers, siltation of water bodies, accumulation of debris and a gradual decline in water level, the research body said. There have also been significant changes in the type of fish being caught in major rivers post the floods.
“In Wayanad district, murrells dominated the fish catch after floods, but carps were the main catch before. In Thrissur and Ernakulam districts, increased presence of piranahs is noted after flood. Exotic species of fish is also reported. The ecomorphological changes of rivers may affect the breeding and feeding grounds in the region, which will have serious implications for capture fisheries in future. Loss of biodiversity and invasion of exotic and carnivorous fishes are other possible threats to fishing,” the Kochi-headquartered CIFT said.