Marine ‘heatwave’ affects livelihood of Kerala fishermen

By Sradha Meloot

Traditional fishermen in Kerala are facing a crisis-like situation due to poor fish catch in the recent months, especially owing to a marine ‘heatwave’ situation.

The situation is not different for fishermen operating small mechanised boats and also with outboard engines.

”It seems fishes are migrating away from the coast,” said Shibu of Vizhinjam fish harbour.

”Most of the days, we are not able to meet our expenses. Majority of our catch will be the cheap gray triggerfish,” he said.

Fish Boat Owners’Association, Karunagapalli, convener Skandadas also said the situation was same along the Kerala coast. ”Fishermen are of late complaining of low fish catch right from Kulachal area in Tamil Nadu. Sea water is warmer now and that might be the reason for the disappearance of quality fishes from the region,” he added.

A mechanised boat owner would have to spend a minimum of Rs 80,000 for venturing into the sea for a period of five days. ”If he is forced to return with a poor catch, he will struggle to give the salaries for the fishermen in the boat. This is a crisis situation and it will certainly affect the coastal economy,” he said.

Local fisherwoman Clara said fish costs more these days due to the shortage. ”Our profit also came down drastically.”

The same is the case with those involved in various activities in fishlanding centres in Kerala.

There are over 220 marine fishing villages in Kerala, with the maximum of over 40 in Thiruvananthapuram. Most fishing villages in the district have their basis in small-scale fisheries, which account for a large percentage of the state’s income.

According to scientists at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), climate change has warmed India’s coastal waters by more than half a degree Celsius over the past three or four decades. As a result, fish populations have sought cooler waters.

The climate change has pushed oil sardines and other fishes to the east and northeast, into the waters around Mumbai and Kolkata.

Fish all over the planet are migrating toward the globe’s poles, often seeking the cooler water they are used to as the ocean warms, the scientists say.

According to studies published in a major science journal, the fish wealth in several areas are dwindling due to the rise in the temperature.

The researchers found that the fish wealth in North Sea and Sea of Japan were the worst hit because of the increase of water temperature.

Several studies are in place that has found the adverse impact of warming in fish wealth.

The researchers have analysed that some of the fisheries have shrunk in size because of warming. As the fisheries grow smaller, the fishes find it hard to get food and even reproduce. Moreover, warm waters are also known to destroy zooplankton, which is considered an essential food for the fishes.

Poor management of fisheries and over fishing is said to adversely affect the fishing population. Scientists and experts point out the need to have a proper mechanism for fisheries management for sustaining the population.

And if this trend continues, the scientists fear that many of the fisheries would be lost in a few years to come. It is estimated that the demand for fish catch is going to be doubled in the coming years with no ending to the increase in population. With global warming having its adverse impact on the oceans, it is high time that the world leaders find a solution to this.

The dwindling fish catch is not only going to have an impact on food security but it would also hit a large number of people who make a living with this. The global leaders have to think of bringing in more restrictions in catching fish.

Kadapuram News Service

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