Small fish being caught extensively in Kerala violating trawling ban

By P Lijeesh 

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Representative image | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Vadakara: The hunt for small fish continues to be unaffected even as trawling ban has been imposed in the state. Since the start of the trawling ban, small sardines (mathi) and mackerels (ayila) are arriving in plenty in fish markets. Small king fish (ayakura) are also being caught and sold extensively in markets. The Marine Enforcement Department caught eight fishing boats in the state recently over this matter.

The Fisheries department has also come forward with measures against violators. As the fish caught during trawling ban are kept away from harbours and fish landing centres and are sold through auction, these measures are not proving to be very effective. The officials from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) visited the shores the other day following reports that small fish were being caught even after imposing trawling ban.

Loss worth crores

According to the Kerala Marine Fishing Regulation Rules, 58 species of fish can be caught only if they are of a certain size. As per these regulations, mackerels must be 14 cm in length and sardines must be 10 cm in length. The fish caught during the last two days are mostly small ones that are only five to six centimetres long. CMFRI Ret. MFD Head Dr Sunil Mohammed said that in four weeks' time these fish would have grown more than double their size.

As the fish grow larger in size, their weight will increase and so will their price. The small fish caught are being sold for lower prices. Last day, small mackerels were sold for Rs 50-100. At present, 1 kg of mackerel will have more than 100 fish. When the mackerels grow in size, 1 kg will have only six or seven fish and will fetch a good price.

When the small fish are caught, the chances of reproduction also diminishes. It is said in the study conducted by CMFRI that sardine is in its reproductive stage when it grows up to 14 to 16 cms.

Kerala’s shores have witnessed a fall in the number of sardines for many years now. 3.9 lakh tonnes of sardine was caught from Kerala shores in 2012 which was reduced to just 77,093 tonnes by 2018.

FishMinimum size of fish to be caught (in cm)
Threadfin bream12
King fish50
Silver Moony13
Adavu fish10
Sole fish9

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