THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the depletion of marine wealth triggering concerns, the Fisheries Department is said to be weighing the possibility of carrying out a species-wise marine catch assessment. Considering the gravity of the situation, the department is also mulling the idea of initiating a study to assess the reasons for the slump in fish catch. The decision, as per sources, follows after the finding the once common fish catch varieties like skate, shark, sardine and squid has become rare, affecting the livelihood of traditional fisherfolk.
“Sea surface temperature is rising at an alarming level. Due to the same, fishes are migrating towards deep sea. As common catch varieties like sardine, which were pelagic ones, has started to move to deep seas, the traditional fishermen are finding it difficult to locate them. An idea is there before us to find out the reasons for the same,” said a Fisheries Department officer.
The department had earlier come out with the finding that other than that of the influence of climate change, unscrupulous catch of fish, juvenile fishing, the domineering presence of foreign trawlers and water pollution are also contributing factors for depletion of marine wealth. It is said once the Fisheries Department decides to move forward with the idea of carrying out a study on the reasons behind the slump in fish catch, it could become a first of its kind study carried out by the department as currently it is relying on study reports of various universities and agencies like the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) for framing policies and decisions.
Meanwhile, M Thajudeen, deputy director (Marine) told Express though global warming and related sea surface temperature are having an impact on the fisheries sector, the department is yet to take up a study in this regard. He said at present the Statistical Cell attached to the Fisheries Directorate is keeping a tab on the marine wealth.
Earlier, in 2010 a study titled ‘Climate Change and India: 4 X 4 Assessment-A Sectoral and Regional Analysis for 2030s’ released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, had highlighted while there could be high concentration of species like oil sardines, varieties like Indian mackerel which normally occupy surface and sub-surface waters might descend to deeper waters.
A report released by CMFRI in May 2017 had mentioned the sharp decline of mackerel and declining trend in the catch of sardine in the state.
Statistics available with the Fisheries Department says, compared to 2015-16, the total fish catch during 2016-17 registered a fall of 51,041 tonnes
The total fish-catch during 2016-17 was 6,76, 466 tonnes
During 2017-18 financial year, the total catch was 2,93,723 tonnes (until September)
In the case of inland fishing, a drop of 22,632 tonnes was recorded in 2016-17 compared to 2015-16.