The government has indicated its intention to allow and encourage deep sea fishing as well as to train fishermen while putting in place structured control over deep sea fishing activities to achieve sustainability.
Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian said at a workshop hosted here by the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) that the government would grant authorization and training to certain deep-sea fishermen.
He said fishing in nearby waters (within 12 nautical miles) was not producing enough fish to meet state requirements, although aquaculture needed to adopt new technologies to cope. the scarcity of wild catches.
The decision to encourage deep-sea fishing comes in the wake of Kerala, where annual fish consumption is well above the national average, with catches declining over the years. Kerala’s fish consumption is almost 30 kg per capita per year while the national average is around 6 kg and the world average is around 22 kg.
According to figures from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute for 2019 (no reliable figures available for 2020, 2021), India’s marine fish production has shown a marginal increase, but landings from Kerala have decreased by 15% and Landings of sardines in oil (which support the vast majority of traditional fishermen and are a major ingredient in the food supply system) was the lowest in two decades.
India recorded 3.56 million tonnes of fish landings in 2019. Tamil Nadu took first place with 7.75 lakh tonnes, followed by Gujarat (7.49 tonnes). Kerala recorded 5.44 lakh tonnes. For Kerala, the drop in catches of Indian mackerel, a coastal resource, is quite worrying. Indian mackerel landings have fallen by 43%. While low fish landings are attributed to resource depletion, there have also been severe changes in weather conditions with cyclones hitting the coast, resulting in lost fishing days.
Fisheries scientist Sunil Mohammed, now retired from CMFRI, explains that inshore fishing involves a management issue while offshore fishing requires development and training. He says ocean squid is one of the resources that can be harnessed to stimulate fishing with myctophids, which can be deployed for the production of fishmeal in place of commercially important juvenile fish.
The General Secretary of the All Kerala Boat Operators’ Association, Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal, said the Marine Products Export Development Authority should be in charge of high seas fishing matters so that there is a uniform distribution of fishing vessels across coastal states. He says there are around 15,000 deep sea fishing vessels and 2,600 deep sea vessels operating off the coast of Kerala. The authority could decide on the optimal fleet size and fishing objectives.
While India’s fishing industry is estimated at around 1.87,000 crore yen, Kerala earns around 40,000 crore yen per year.