KOLLAM: The first-of-its-kind study on myctophids or lanternfish in the state being carried out by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) at the Neendakara coast has been provisionally called off owing to monsoon and the imminent trawling ban. The CIFT along with the Kollam Boat Owners Association began research activities at Neendakara for exploring the possibility of deep sea fishing and catch of myctophids on April 1. According to the team, research activities is more likely to be resumed only in October.
“The sea is rough as the monsoon is on. Also, the 47-day trawling ban will be imposed from June 14. Thus, we decided to temporarily cease the ongoing research activities,” said M P Remesan, principal scientist with CIFT, who heads the research programme.
“Once it’s over, we will resume the next phase of research and selected fishing vessels will be provided with specialised nets for catching myctophids,” he said.
In a study published by the CIFT on January 2017 titled ‘Investigations on Aimed Midwater Trawling for Myctophid in the Arabian Sea’, it was found the fish variety- which had huge commercial potential in the international market- was yet to be explored in our seas. Though the fish variety is aplenty in Kollam, the traditional fisherfolk were largely ignorant about this. “Earlier, when we caught the myctophids, we were penalised by the Fisheries authorities. But a seminar jointly conducted by CIFT and Kollam Boat Owners Association changed the perspective of the authorities,” said Peter Mathias, secretary, Kollam Boat Owners Association.
“It also helped the traditional fishermen to realise they were sitting on a treasure trove. But what we need is technical assistance like specialised nets to catch this fish variety. For which, the government intervention is imperative,” he said.
A study conducted with the help of Center for Marine Living Resources and Ecology and Ministry of Earth Sciences found as myctophids migrate vertically in morning and evening at comparatively high speed, the optimisation of trawl design was important. According to Remesan, in the first phase, CIFT’s research vessel fitted with specially designed net, echo sounder and a deep freezer will be fielded at Neendakara. The CIFT will provide technical assistance to the fisherfolk on mid-water trawling for catching myctophids, he said.
- Myctophids are key members of mesopelagic communities and are represented by about 250 species worldwide
- Mesopelagic fish population are estimated at 1000 million tonnes
- In India, this potential fishery resource is yet to be commercially exploited
- At present, only a small percentage is used directly for consumption
- Myctophid, used for production of fish meal and oil, also is a major source of fish protein
- It is also used for the making of poultry feed, crop fertilisers, lubricating oil and cosmetics
- A study conducted by CIFT found deep sea shrimp trawlers operating off southwest coast of Kerala caught large quantities of myctophids as by-catch