Fishermen have expressed worries about the insufficient yield of marine products caused by overfishing and non-scientific trawling practices, negatively affecting their livelihoods.

They called for urgent measures to address the problems faced by both coastal and inland fisheries workers, emphasizing the need for quick intervention from both central and state governments.

A meeting convened at the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS) stressed the importance of fast-tracking initiatives to integrate fishery workers into the production processes of aquaculture.

The meeting comprising fishermen and fish farmers urged the governments to address the issues of marine fishers and inland fishermen separately.  

Fishermen representatives pointed out the traditional oversight of problems within the fishing community as a whole and the ineffectiveness of the solutions brought forth.

The meeting emphasized the need for customized solutions for each community, highlighting the importance of government intervention from both authorities. Additionally, it urged the Kerala Fisheries Department to initiate dialogues with diverse stakeholders, including local fishery workers and farmers, to devise and execute efficient resolutions for the challenges confronting the fisheries sector.

Kerala, with a 590 km coastal line, has 222 marine fishery workers’ villages and over a million marine fishery workers. More than 50 per cent of these workers are women, mainly concentrated in fish retail marketing efforts. On the other hand, the State has over 2.38 lakhs inland fishermen, whose main livelihood activity involves harvesting fish primarily from the 44 rivers, five backwater lakes, and 81 dam reservoirs.

Kerala boasts a staggering fish consumption volume, with the State’s average yearly fish consumption estimated at 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 ten lakh tonnes.

Approximately 40 per cent of this demand is met through imports from neighbouring states and even countries like Oman.

On the other hand, the plight of diligent fish farmers in Kerala is alarming, as they 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.