Exploitation of juvenile fish for fishmeal is still rampant in Kerala, India, despite new regulations and a self-imposed ban by fisherfolk unions and boat owners.
Two of the largest fishing harbours in Kerala, Neendakara and Sakthikulangara in Kollam district, are the most affected. Sources said that large amounts of juvenile fish are sold to fish meal factories located at Mangaluru and Tuticorin.
Fish commanding the highest commercial demand are ribbon, threadfin bream, mackerel and leather jacket, all of which are badly hit. Fishing boats are reported to be bringing in between 10,000 and 20,000 kg at a time.
Exploitation of juvenile fishes on a large scale was first reported from Neendakara, Kerala’s largest fishing harbor, then spread to nearby Sakthikulangara harbour. Many were opposed to the unsustainable mode because of the fall in catches, but more and more boats are now engaging in it because it fetches them money.
The juvenile fish catch is reportedly sold to fishmeal factories at Rs 15 (USD 23 cents) per kg. If allowed to grow, they would be worth more ten time this amount.
The state fisheries department has issued orders warning against the practice and stipulated the minimum size of juveniles that can be commercially exploited, but despite this, fishmeal factories continue to provide vessels with small mesh size nets and financial aid.
According to Kerala fishworkers union president Charles George, some trawlers are violating a self-imposed ban but traditional fishermen are not catching juveniles.
Fisheries minister K Babu said the government has issued notification banning juvenile fishing and officials have been instructed to ensure action against violators. \"The department officials are expected to monitor and take action,\" he said.
Source: The Times of India. Full article here.