Sardines | File Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kollam: Over 50 per cent increase has been recorded in the availability of marine fish in Kerala in 2021-22 compared to the previous financial year. Nearly 6.01 lakh tonnes of fish was caught from the state’s territory in 2021-22. This was only 3.91 lakh tonnes in 2020-21. The state captured 3.08 lakh tonnes of fish in the first two quarters of the financial year 2022-23.
The marine fish catch was more than 5 lakh tonnes from 2000 to 2016. This dropped to 4.8 lakh tonnes in 2016 and 2017. Though an increase was marked in 2018, it again declined drastically in 2019 and 2020. This had urged the union government to seek explanation from the state government and criticisms were raised against violations, including the catch of juvenile fish. The state fisheries department cited harsh weather conditions and the Covid-19-induced lockdown as the cause of the decline in marine fish yield. Due to weather alerts and warnings, the fisherfolk could not pursue fishing for nearly 100 days in these years.
The department said that successful efforts to curb the catch of juvenile fish have resulted in the high yield last year. Up to 60-70 per cent of the marine fish catch in Kerala constitutes surface water fish, including sardines and mackerels. The department considers the steep increase in the yield of sardines as a significant achievement.
Nearly 12,340 tonnes of sardines were caught in the state in 2021-22, instead of the 6,762 tonnes caught in 2020-21. When the sardine yield had the biggest decline of the past 20 years in 2019, the researchers had become anxious whether the sardine population was leaving the Kerala coast.