Warm­ing, pol­lu­tion be­hind drop in fish catch: Ex­perts

Fewer Sar­dines In Ker­ala, Hilsa In West Ben­gal

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NA­TION - Times­group.com

Kochi: Fish lovers across In­dia should brace them­selves for some un­ap­petis­ing news—odds are that those hol­i­day­ing in Goa, Kochi or Kolkata will see fewer sar­dines and Hilsa Shad on their seafood plat­ter.

Re­searchers have found that In­dia’s ma­rine catch has dropped by 5% in 2014 com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year, re­sult­ing in higher re­tail prices. Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates re­leased by Cen­tral Ma­rine Fish­eries Re­search In­sti­tute (CM­FRI), the coun­try’s ma­rine land­ings dropped to 3.59 mil­lion tonnes against 3.78 mil­lion tonnes in 2013.

Ev­ery year 600 to 700 species are landed along the coastal wa­ters of the coun­try and the catch of many pop­u­lar va­ri­eties of fish have dropped. “The catch of oil sar­dines, which are pop­u­lar in Ker­ala, have dropped, so has that of Bom­bay Duck in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Hilsa Shad in West Ben­gal,” said Sathi­anan­dan T V, head, fish­eries re­sources as­sess­ment di­vi­sion, CM­FRI. Among the species that reg­is­tered a drop are rib­bon fish, prawns, croak­ers and cephalopods like squids, oc­to­puses and cut­tle­fish.

Sci­en­tists say changes in ocean cli­mate and in­crease in ma­rine pol­lu­tion could be among the causes for the con­tin­ued drop in fish land­ings. “Changes in ocean con­di­tions and en­vi­ron­ment is­sues are be­ing seen as the com­mon fac­tors. We can’t deny that there is pol­lu­tion in the coastal wa­ters,” said A Gopalakr­ish­nan, di­rec­tor, CM­FRI while re­leas­ing the data. Oil sar­dines ac­counted for the largest caught species at 5.45 lakh tonnes and Ker­ala topped in sar­dine land­ings across the coun­try.

Still, in Ker­ala, there was a drop of 92,000 tonnes when com­pared to last year, though it shot up in Goa record­ing an all-time high of 1.16 lakh tonnes ac­count­ing for 75.6% of the state’s to­tal ma­rine catch.

But the value of ma­rine fish land­ings in 2014 based on prices at the land­ing cen­tres touched Rs 31,754 crore, reg­is­ter­ing an in­crease of 8.1% over 2013.

CM­FRI of­fi­cials said that at the re­tail level, the es­ti­mated to­tal value was Rs 52,363 crore reg­is­ter­ing an in­crease of 12% over 2013. The av­er­age price per kilo of fish across va­ri­eties at land­ing cen­tres was Rs 88.65, i.e., a 14.1% in­crease and re­tail value of Rs 146.27, an in­crease of 18.4%. Ker­ala had the high­est re­al­iza­tion of prices at land­ing and re­tail cen­tres reg­is­ter­ing a growth of 18.3% and 19.4%, re­spec­tively, over 2013.

Things are not dif­fer­ent in other places too. Catch of Hilsa Shad off the West Ben­gal coast dropped dras­ti­cally from 40,000 tonnes to 3,000 tonnes last year. This was at­trib­uted to re­duc­tion in mech­a­nised fish­ing crafts due to non-prof­itabil­ity. The mech­a­nised sec­tor had been tar­get­ing the high­value Hilsa Shad and hence the marked drop in ac­tiv­ity has re­sulted in steep de­cline of 87% in land­ings.

VKripa, en­vi­ron­ment fish­eries di­vi­sion head, said they had no­ticed an in­crease in jelly fish pop­u­la­tion near the coast dur­ing up­wellings.

“The jelly fish eats the eggs of sar­dines and could be one of the con­trib­u­tor to fall in catch in Ker­ala.”Of the states along the coastal belt, Gu­jarat con­trib­uted most to ma­rine catch with 7.12 met­ric tonnes.

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