Exploration of inedible fish species on cards in Kerala

The CIFT will research developing the craft and gear technology for exploiting the species.
Exploration of inedible fish species on cards in Kerala
(Photo | Special Arrangement)

KOCHI : In an attempt to support the fishing community, which is facing a crisis due to depletion of fish stocks in the coastal waters, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has proposed exploration of non-edible mesopelagic fish species that can be utilised by fishmeal industry.

The CMFRI, in association with other research institutes like the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), is working on a pilot project on the feasibility of harvesting and utilisation of the species.

Simultaneously, the Union ministry has asked the CMFRI to conduct a pilot study under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana on exploring the Trichiurus Auriga, or pearly hairtail belonging to the ribbon fish category, an inedible species that can be used by the fishmeal industry.

The two projects are likely to address the demand in the industry to help reduce the stress on edible species like oil sardine, Indian mackerel and threadfin bream. “The mesopelagic species are found in abundance at a depth of 200m to 1,000m in the North Arabian sea. About 75% of the mesopelagic species constitute a group of fish called myctophids, commonly known as lantern fish. Since it is inedible, we are exploring the possibility of utilising it for the fishmeal industry. The wax ester found in the liver of the myctophids can be of use to the cosmetic industry. There are around 200 species in the myctophid category,” said CMFRI Finfish Division head Dr Shobha Joe Kizhakudan.

(Photo | Special Arrangement)

“The fishmeal industry is currently dependent on the lesser sardines, an edible species. If we can utilise myctophids for the fishmeal industry, it will reduce the stress on edible species and help revive the depleting fish stocks in the coastal sea. As the wax ester can be utilised for the cosmetic industry, it will ensure better revenue for the fishing community,” she said.

The CIFT will conduct research on developing the craft and gear technology for exploiting the species.

“According to a rough estimate, there is a harvestable potential of 1.6 million tonnes of mesopelagic resources available in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). These resources offer significant economic opportunities,” said CMFRI director A Gopalakrishnan.

Exploring deep sea fishing

  • Mesopelagic: Species inhabiting intermediate depth of the sea between 200m and 1,000m

  • Epipelagic: Species found in the upper stratum of ocean where light penetrates

  • Myctophids: Weighs two to six grams and has an average length of less than six inches. It is not edible but can be used for fishmeal industry. The wax ester in its liver can be used for cosmetic industry. Around 1.6 million tonnes available in North Arabian Sea

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