KOCHI: Fisheries experts have opined that in order to maintain the sustainability of the fisheries sector, the indigenous knowledge of traditional fishermen need to be preserved. The discussion came up at a seminar on Traditional Fishing and Indigenous Knowledge, held at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS). The seminar observed that it was necessary to archive the indigenous knowledge of traditional fishermen for maintaining sustainability of fisheries.
K S Purushan, Professor of Eminence, KUFOS, said that Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) was helpful in promoting eco-friendly fishing practices by observing various signs and signals in sea and sky and it demands skilled and strategic approach, season favoured fishing, conservative and sustainable practices.
“A competent traditional fisherman can make use of this ITK. He is able to judge how the water currents and tides would affect the fishing endeavour. By feeling the temperature of water some fishermen are able to predict the appearance or the disappearance of fishes at times. The ability to predict weather changes due to formation of clouds in different shapes and directions is an important indigenous technical knowledge for fishing,” K S Purushan said. He added that an experienced traditional fisherman can predict, by observing the constellation and concentration of stars (Meenkani), the availability of fishes to follow during subsequent days. The reddish hue seen in the horizon during certain evenings is believed to be a forerunner for the availability of fish like Mackerel.
“The traditional fishermen say that regions where there is sudden fall in temperature is not a good abode for fish and fishing and it would take two to three weeks for attaining normalcy of the situation.
“They also believe that the red water phenomenon covering wide areas and drifting along the currents due to the intensive multiplication of certain micro algae (dianoflagellates and diatoms) is an indication of fishkill and tactfully avoid fishing in such areas”, he said.
The seminar proposed that steps should be taken to set up a museum and art gallery to conserve and popularise this precious wisdom. The seminar also recommended including ITK as a course programme for fisheries students.
A main challenge being faced by the fishing community is the declining trend in fish catch owing to climatic change, temperature variations, water pollution, and reclamation of water bodies, indiscriminate and over fishing. The inclusion of foreign trawlers in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is also found to be a threat. The fisher folk, who spoke at the session, expressed their concern over the report submitted by Meenakumari Commission. The issue of ban of fishing in the deep sea area between 200 m and 500 m and retaining it as a buffer zone was criticised by fisher folk who said that it would prove detrimental to them.