The Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (Kufos) is set to host a national-level fishermen and fish farmers meet, as part of the larger International Fisheries Congress and Expo to be held from January 12-14.

T Pradeepkumar, Vice-Chancellor, Kufos, highlighted that this meeting is specifically convened to address critical issues affecting the backbone of Kerala’s economy – the fisheries sector comprising fishing and aquaculture. The urgency of the situation necessitates immediate attention and collective efforts.

Supply-demand gap

Kerala boasts of a staggering fish consumption volume, with the State’s average yearly fish consumption estimated over 25 kg per head, surpassing the global average of 20.8 kg. However, the annual marine fish landings of the State, standing at 5.5 lakh tonnes, and inland fish landings of 1.7 lakh tonnes, fall significantly short of the local demand of over 10 lakh tonnes. Approximately, 40 per cent of this demand is met through imports from neighbouring States and even countries like Oman.

In this context, the plight of diligent fish farmers is alarming. Despite their tireless efforts to contribute to Kerala’s economy, many of them face substantial losses due to a lack of demand for farm-fresh fish, leading some to the unfortunate decision of closing their fish farms and bio flock units.

The irony deepens when the sector acknowledge that Kerala, blessed with rich aquatic resources and an extensive coastline, heavily relies on fish supplies from other States to meet daily consumption needs. The State has the potential to produce high-quality fish locally, yet farmers are grappling with losses due to insufficient demand.

The International Fisheries Congress and Expo recognise the urgency of this issue and decided to organise a comprehensive meet involving fish farmers, fishermen, and industrialists as part of the Congress.

The 3-day summit will be inaugurated by the State Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian. KK Jena, Deputy Director-General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, will serve as the chief guest. VK Ramachandran, Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board, will deliver keynote address.