PUTHIYAPPA HARBOUR/KOZHIKODE:Arunesh knows nothing other than catching fish in the Arabian Sea. Thanks to climate change affecting fish stocks, the lives of fishermen like him operating out of the Puthiyappa harbour in Kozhikode are at a crossroads.
Oil sardines and mackerel which used to be abundant off the Kerala coast have moved away to deeper waters. There has been an alarming dip in the fishermen’s catch in recent years. The only species caught in the nets now are fish that are not consumable. Arunesh says, “The sea should be cooler during this time of the year. But it is getting warmer and we can feel it.”
Data recently released by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute show that overall fish landings in Kerala dropped to 4.82 lakh tonnes in 2015 from 5.76 lakh tonnes the previous year. Year on year, there was a 14 per cent drop in 2014 and 16 in 2015, mainly due to the dip in oil sardine landings. In Karnataka, marine fish landings fell 6.6 per cent over the previous year. However, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry saw a slight increase.
Experts say the data indicate that certain species are moving away to areas where the sea surface temperature is lower. A Kerala government report warns the temperature has increased by 0.6° C over the past 50 years.