Mangaluru, Nov 04 2019: Wrong fishing practices, overfishing and exploitation, employing methods such as ’light fishing’ along the coasts of Karnataka for over 5 years, has now resulted in a significant reduction in fish catch, thereby causing fish famine and prices to hit the ceiling.
Experts say that overfishing was a major reason for the explosion of triggerfish population, which is visible, at the expense of other fish species. The Fisheries Department, meanwhile, has sought a report regarding the surge in triggerfish population and reasons for the same.
Vasudev Boloor, vice president of National Fishworkers’ Forum, said that triggerfish - which was a small percentage of the catch in previous years - was the primary catch for many fishermen during the season. "We have not seen them in such large numbers in the past," he said.
Though triggerfish catch - popularly referred as Cargill fish - was not profitable for the fishermen, they are selling it off to fishmeal factories to cover their losses, he said.
According to Shivakumar Haragi, assistant professor of Marine Biology, Karnatak University, Dharwad, blamed the industrial scale ’light fishing’ in 2015-16 for the decline in fish yield during the year. Light fishing is practiced using expensive machinery, and uses a bulb estimated to be worth Rs one lakh to attract fish. "Then all the fish are indiscriminately scooped up into the fishing boats, causing an imbalance," he said.
It was banned the very next year as fish yield declined prompting smaller fishermen to complain about the loss of their livelihood.
"Since almost one-and-half times the normal catch was recorded due to light fishing three-fours year ago, yield declined in subsequent years and is taking time to replenish. Moreover, fish production volume has surged and contributed to the decline in edible species such as macquerel, sardine, king fish and pomfret," he observed, contributing to the triggerfish surge.
Kota Srinivas Poojary, Minister for Muzrai, Ports and Fisheries said that the he had sought a report from the Department regarding the issue. "Though the decline in catch during the year, we are primarily looking at the cause for the increase in Cargill fish population. The report is expected to shed a light on whether it was caused by weather extremes and the conditions that result in the surge of this fish population," he said.
People commonly have complained that the manner in which this smelly fish (Cargill fish) is transported along main roads of various places and here in Mangaluru from Bundar and other spots to Ullal is seriously eroding all hygiene norms. Officials have been promising mitigation action for long, yet now this menace is only growing daily to very serious proportions.