KOCHI: Juvenile fishing is being pushed by the feed industry lobby from neighbouring states despite the state government imposing a minimum legal size (MLS)for the catch.
Though efforts of the Fisheries Department and organisations in the sector have curbed it in most fish landing centres here, Shakthikulangara and Neendakara harbours in Kollam serve low value fish to fish meal factories in Mangalore and Thoothukudi, said industry players.
Up to 100 boats in Kollam are engaged in juvenile fishing, according to officials who did not want to be named. Each boat carried 10,000 kg to 20,000 kg of juveniles that are purchased by the feed industry for `15 per kg. On an average around 20 to 50 tonnes of juvenile fish land in Sakthikulangara and Neendakara a day where the fish meal factory agents exert power.
They supply fishing nets for juveniles and offer financial assistance to fisherfolk, they said.Commercial fish varieties including ribbon fish, thread fin breams, mackerel and leather jacket are caught.
“The issue has multiple dimensions,” said Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal, secretary, All-Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association. Poor fisherfolk opt for juvenile fishing to sustain themselves. Fisher organisations are vigilant not to encourage juvenile fishing in Alappuzha, Ernakulam and in north Kerala. Most boats are from Tamil Nadu where they return directly with the catch, he said.
“The Central government that promotes aquaculture ignores marine fisheries, which shows double standard. Large-scale fish farming can survive only with cheap fish feed made of juvenile fish. I have learned that there is an unofficial direction from the Central government not to lay much stress on curbing juvenile catch to protect the interests of the influential Vannamie farming lobby,” Joseph Xavier alleged. Vannamie farming constitutes 60 per cent of the marine fish exports, he said.
Fisheries Director Mini Antony said strict enforcement measures are being implemented across the state. Juvenile fishing has considerably reduced as fisher organisations have realised the importance of the regulations and are cooperating with the department in its efforts to curb it.
“We will inquire into it take action, if necessary,” she said.
sea of trouble for FISHERMEN
■ National Fish Workers Forum to stage protest in Delhi on March 10
■ A committee under the chairmanship of DG, ICAR, to collect inputs from stakeholders
■ Govt plans to revise National Policy on Marine Fisheries 2014
■ NFF demands ST status for fishers
[I have learned that there is an unofficial direction from the Central government not to lay much stress on curbing juvenile catch— Joseph Xavier, secretary, All-Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association