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Marine Fisheries

Kerala, the green ribbon shaped maritime state on the west cost of peninsular India, is blessed with a coastline of 590 km, a continental shelf area of 40000 sq.km, extensive interconnected brackish water lakes and estuaries. The State has a fish worker population of about 10.lakhs. The density of population in the coastal area is 2168 persons per Km2, where as the state average is 859. Marine fishery has a prominent place in the economy of Kerala. It is the only source of livelihood of more than 8 lakh marine fishermen and out of this, more than two lakhs of active fisher folk are engaged in fishing along the coastline, who inhabit in 222 marine villages. The fisheries sector provides occupation to about 3.86 lakh people directly and much more indirectly, making it a significant employment providing sector of the State.

Sea fishing has been an occupation with the coastal people from time immemorial. The fishing industry was developed solely by the fishermen over centuries. A meaningful move was made towards mechanization since independence and the progress achieved raised the status of industry by its recognition as a primary area of growth. In the early Nineteen Sixties, small mechanized vessels were introduced and in the Nineteen Seventies, marine fishing activities rapidly expanded in the continental shelf area. In the Nineteen Eighties, motorization of country crafts became popular and by employing these crafts with new gears, the exploitation of marine fisheries was accelerated. As the fishing fleets increased in number, stagnation in fish catch was felt and the profit from fishing begin to diminish.

Fishing industry occupies an important role in the economy of Kerala. According to the available estimates of the potential fishery resources of the west coast, particularly in South West coasts, Kerala possesses the richest fishing grounds in the area. The state exports fish products worth approximately Rupees 1,200 Crores and has domestic sales worth Rupees 600 crore annually, accounting for roughly three per cent of the state revenue.   Kerala’s share in the national marine fish production is about 20 %.

The total registered fishing fleet in the state consists of about 23129 motorised crafts, 2986 mechanised and 1673 non-motorised crafts.

As against the estimated maximum sustainable yield of about 7.5 lakh metric tonnes, the present level of fish production in the state is about 5.53 lakhs metric tonnes. (2011-12)

It is a fact that, the socio-economic condition of the fisher folk in the State is pitiable, when compared to the general section of the population. Backwardness is the hall mark of fishermen. They are in the grip of subsistence economy and indebtedness in the normal aspects of their life. Many reasons could be accounted for this state of affairs. Among social, economic and educational and such other reasons, the depletion of fishery wealth is a major cause.

Sl No

District

Coastal Length (Km)

Fishermen Population (*000)

Fishermen population per km length

1

Thiruvananthapuram

78

163.5

2096

2

Kollam

37

89.47

2418

3

Alappuzha

82

107.20

1307

4

Ernakulam

46

70.96

1543

5

Thrissur

54

70.95

1314

6

Malappuram

70

77.90

1113

7

Kozhikode

71

94.86

1336

8

Kannur

82

53.99

658

9

Kasargode

70

44.42

606

Total

590

771.25

1307

District wise Distribution of Coastline and Fishermen Population

It is also added that 79% of fish worker families have an annual income of less than Rs 6000/-. Hence almost all fisher folk are poor. In addition to economics, poverty is some thing which is related to the feeling of lack of power and resources. Important measurements of poverty are low consumption expenditure, poor health, illiteracy, unemployment, underemployment and unsanitary housing. Poverty in this sensitive area brings heavy milestones which threaten security of the State. Lack of proper infrastructure facilities causes these regions and communities to live in relative isolation from the mainstream. Hence, it is high time to see the coastal area as a sensitive border and resultant obligation of border area development schemes to wipe out poverty. An integrated approach is imperative for improving the socio economic conditions of the fishermen and coastal infrastructure.

Resource Potential

According to the available estimates of potential fishery resources of the West Coast, particularly in the south-west coasts, Kerala possesses the richest fishing grounds in the region. The latest picture regarding the exploitable marine resources of Kerala coast is the one furnished by the Expert Committee on marine Fisheries in Kerala, 1989, headed by A. G. Kalwar. Following Tables illustrate the potential resources of the Kerala Coast.

Resources in Tonnes

Stock

Depth Zones

0 – 20 m

21 – 80 m

81 – 200 m

Total

Demersal

37,935

(26.1%)

90,432

(62.2%)

17,040

(11.7%)

1,45,407

(100%)

Pelagic

3,07,539

(26.1%)

7,32,908

(62.2%)

1,37,863

(11.7%)

11,78,310

(100%)

Total

3,45,490

8,23,352

1,54,875

2 - 2

13,23,717

Marine Fishery Reources of the State

 

Maximum Sustainable Yield

M. S. Y.

Depth Zones

0 – 20 m

21 – 80 m

81 – 200 m

Total

Demersal

(60%)

22,761

(26.1%)

54,249

(62.2%)

10,224

(11.7%)

87,344

(100%)

Pelagic

(60%)

1,84,786

(26.1%)

4,40,349

(62.2%)

82,831

(11.7%)

7,07,956

(100%)

Total

2,07,547

4,94,608

93,055

7,95,300

Maximum Sustainable Yield


Marine Fish Production

As against the maximum sustainable yield of about 7.5 lakh metric tonnes, average landing by traditional crafts is about 35,000 tonnes and that by mechanised crafts is 6,00,000 tonnes based on the available data on annual landing. The actual landing efforts of the traditional crafts are virtually confined to 0 to 20 m and mechanised crafts upto 50 m.



 

Agencies

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