INDIA - With marine pollution and changes in temperature in the ocean climate, India’s marine fish catch has recorded at drop of five per cent in 2014.
As per estimates released by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in 2014, marine fish catch was at 3.56 million tonnes, as compared to 3.78 million tonnes of marine fish recorded during 2013.
The institute attributed the drop to pollution in the coastal waters that has impacted the catch and also raised the red flag on increasing pollution.
Of all the states along the coastal belt, Gujarat contributed most to the marine catch with 712,000 tonnes followed by Tamil Nadu 665,000 tonnes, Kerala 576,000 tonnes, Karnataka 474,000 tonnes and Maharashtra 345,000 in the top five slots.
The institute report said that the marine landings from the west coast that extends from Kerala to Gujarat contributed 64 per cent of the total landings and the remaining 36 per cent came from the east coast that stretches from Tamil Nadu to West Bengal.
However, the southern states which are on the east and west have been the major contributors to the total landings.
The drop in the catch includes species such as ribbon fish, prawns, croakers and cephalopods - like squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
An official in fishery department told TheFishSite.com that the changes in ocean conditions and environment issues are some major and basic reasons for this drop.
To generate increase in marine fish catch, we need to focus more on cage culture, which is only limited to river, reservoirs, and other water bodies in the country, the official added.
Unless we use the immense coast line, we will be unable to generate growth in fish catch from the seas, the official stressed.
Another reason for the decline in fish catch is seismic blast technology used by oil companies to explore oil deposits inside the sea bed off the Mumbai high on the west coast.
Kerala recorded a drop of 92,000 tonnes in oil sardines which was 545,000 tonnes, as compared to the same period last year.
A researcher has opined that on the coast line, the jellyfish population has increased and this species are dependent on sardines eggs, so there has been a drop of sardine catch in Kerala. The same in the case of Bombay buck in Maharashtra and hilsa fish in West Bengal. The bigger the jellyfish population the lesser fish in these coast lines.
However, in value terms, marine fish landings in 2014 posted an increase of 8.1 per cent to $4.97 billion (Rs 31,754 crore), against the same period last year.
CMFRI officials said that at the retail level, the estimated total value was $8.20 billion (Rs 52,363 crore) registering an increase of 12 per cent over 2013.
The average price per kilo of fish across varieties at landing centers was $1.35 (Rs 88.65), that has increased by over 14.1 per cent and retail value of $2.29 (Rs 146.27), an increase of 18.4 per cent.
Kerala had the highest realisation of prices at the landing and retail centers registering a growth of 18.3 per cent and 19.4 per cent, respectively, as compared to the same period in 2013.
Catch of hilsa off the West Bengal coast dropped drastically from 40,000 tonnes in 2014 to 3,000 tonnes fish catch in 2014. The drop was attributed to the reduction in mechanized fishing crafts due to non-profitability.
The mechanized sector had been targeting the high-value hilsa shad and hence the marked drop in activity has resulted in steep decline of 87 per cent in landings.