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'Packed like sardines' may become a distant memory for Kerala's coastal belt

Though the fisheries sector heaved a sigh of relief as the sardine stocks in Kerala's coastal belt showed signs of recovery in 2017, there are indications the impact is far more deep.

Published: 13th April 2018 04:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2018 04:33 AM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

KOCHI: The traditional fishermen in the state apparently have their cup of woe runneth over. Though the fisheries sector heaved a sigh of relief as the sardine stocks in Kerala's coastal belt showed signs of recovery in 2017, there are indications the impact is far more deep.

According to the fishermen, there has been a drastic drop in the fecundity rate of sardines, this year.
"Usually the sardines lay eggs during February and March, but this year the fishermen say they haven't seen eggs which is alarming," said Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi president Charles George."Sardines belong to the pelagic stock and they are found in the coastal area. The ideal climate for sardine is 28 degree Celsius and during the summer season it moves into to the deeper waters. If there is a slump in egg laying there will be a steep drop in the sardine catch next season."

According to the CMFRI scientists, climate cycles like the El Nino has contributed to the depletion of fish stocks in Kerala's coastal waters."Factors like global warming, absence of summer showers and heavy rainfall can affect the spawning of sardine. There has been change in the maturity pattern also. Ususally sardines lay eggs when they attain a length of 15 cm. But  lately  we have seen 17cm-long sardines which  were yet to attain maturity. It seems the change in the ecosystem has adversely affected the sardine's physical characteristics," said CMFRI principal scientist E M Abdussamad.

Sardines are in great demand in the state and it is the tastiest fish in Kerala's waters.Post 2012, the sardine catch witnessed a major decline and it touched a nadir in 2016 with the haul dropping to 43,000 tonnes.
However, the fishermen heaved a sigh of relief in 2017 when the catch went up to 1.25 lakh tonne. But the latest report has set off alarm bells  for the coastal populace.



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