Kochi (Kerala) [India], January 2 (ANI): Indian oil sardine, which was showing a declining trend for the past few years, appears to be on a revival path along the Kerala coast, read a statement by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Kochi on Saturday.
It said that scattered batches of immature sardines have been reported from the southern coast of the state because of a seemingly favourable condition in the marine ecosystem.
"For the last five years, there has been a sharp decline of oil sardine along the Kerala coast. El Nino Southern Oscillation causes a rise in sea-surface temperature and triggers changes in the ocean's vertical, thermal structure, particularly in coastal regions, and the warming of sea water has been a major reason for the decline in the sardine population," read the statement.
Kerala witnessed a significant drop of 15.4 per cent in the marine fish landings last year with total landings of 5.44 lakh ton.
"A sharp decline in catch of oil sardine and Indian mackerel, the two major resources in the state, is the highlight of Kerala's landings. The extensive catching of these stocks as it may badly affect the expected revival. Upon assessing the sexual maturity, a team of researchers of the CMFRI has found that these sardines having a size of 14-16 cm are yet to reach the reproductive stage," it said.
Flagging concerns over indiscriminate fishing of these small sardines, researchers pointed out that they require another three more months to attain full maturity, it said.
The CMFRI's study shows that the spawning stock biomass of sardine along Kerala waters is meagre now.
"Considering this unusual and unfavourable status of the stock, we advise not to catch these sardines even though they fall above the minimum legal size of 10 cm", said EM Abdussamad, principal scientist of CMFRI who led the study.
CMFRI Director A Gopalakrishnan said that CMFRI has brought the matter to the attention of Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma.
"The fish registered a slight increase in 2017 but continued to fall deep again during the following years. The last year witnessed the lowest catch of sardine in two decades at 44,320 tonnes. We had earlier found that unfavourable conditions in the ocean ecosystem following the El Nino was behind fluctuations in the availability of the sardine," CMFRI said.
"Imposing self-regulation in fishing these sardines would greatly help augmenting the revival. Marine fish catch grew 2.1 per cent YoY in 2019, with the country recording 3.56 million ton in total landings," it said. (ANI)