File Photo | Mathrubhumi
Neeleshwaram: Though it is the time of a good catch, Keralites’ favourite fish sardines are nowhere to be seen. Due to the rise in demand, the price of sardines has skyrocketed. As seer fish is available aplenty, its price dropped and now the cost of both the fish is almost the same.
The sardines that are sold in Kasaragod are mainly brought from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The fisherfolk said that it has been around two years since they caught sardines near the Kerala coast.
Sardines now fetch between Rs 200 and Rs 300 per kilogram while the large seer fish are sold for Rs 380 - Rs 400. The cost of small mackerels have dropped considerably and touched Rs 250 - Rs 300, which is almost the same price of sardines.
Despite being the season of a good catch, it is not a good time for the fishermen. Neeleshwaram native Suresh Babu, a fisherman, claimed that the fish population has depleted drastically. The pearl spot (Karimeen) and prawns once abundantly caught have also decreased now, said Suresh.
What happened to sardines?
Dr A Bijukumar, head of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries in Kerala University, pointed out three reasons for the absence of sardines near the Kerala coast and the most important among them is climate change. As the sardines swim near the water surface, they migrate to cooler places when the temperature exceeds a certain limit.
Now the sardine population is moving to the northern region including the coasts of Gujarat and Goa. When the temperature rises in the Indian ocean, the oxygen level in the water decreases and it also dwindles the reproduction rate of them.