While oil sardines, the mainstay of the catches in most of the maritime states in the country recorded the sharpest drop, Hilsa Shad, the favourite fish in West Bengal, recovered from its previous trends of dwindling landings to reach 94,000 tonnes- four fold increase compared to past year, says the estimates of country's marine fish landings of 2016.
After recording steady declines in the India's marine fish landings since 2012, by Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) announced the total fish landings in India has increased by 6.6% in 2016.
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Even as mackerel recorded a sharp decline in Kerala, the national fish was placed the first spot of the major resources obtained all over the country, after a long interval from 1999 with an overall production of 2.5 lakh tonnes ahead of sardine (2.44 lakh tonnes).
The data released shows that Kerala, one of the major fish-consuming states in the country, has slipped down to fourth spot for the first time in the history, behind Karnataka.
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Despite the fall, the State registered an 8% increase in its total marine fish catch over the previous year, producing 5.23 lakh tonnes. For the first time after 1998, sardine was not the top-ranked species in terms of the catch in the country. At a mere 0.46 lakh tonnes in 2016, it is the lowest catch of sardine over the past two decades. In 2016, it has been replaced by mackerel as the fish with maximum landings in the Indian coasts. Mackerel catch stood at 2.5 lakh tonnes compared with 2.44 lakh tonnes of sardine.
The northwest region comprising of Gujarat, Maharashtra and the UT of Daman & Diu have the maximum quantity with 11.8 lakh tonnes of landings (33 per cent). At the retail level, the value is calculated at Rs 73289 crore.
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According to A Gopalakrishnan, CMFRI Director, the marine capture fisheries is experiencing more fishing pressure and there is an urgent need to implement control measures to maintain the harvest at sustainable levels. "We have to explore the utilisation of untapped and unconventional resources to meet the demand", he said. Further, climate change, particularly the increase of sea surface temperature and mean sea level rise, are factors affecting the marine fisheries.