Fish catch up from 80,687 tonnes in 2009 to 1,16,095 tonnes in 2018
PANJIM: The marine fish catch has registered a sharp increase of over 30 per cent, especially between 2013 and 2014. Experts believe that the surge is due to LED light fishing and bull trawling methods.
As per statistics available with the Fisheries Department, the year 2009 brought 80,687 tonnes of fish from the Arabian Sea for consumption. However, in 2017 the total fish catch was 1,20,430 tonnes, though in 2018 it dropped to 1,16,095 tonnes. Despite the decrease, the 2018 catch was 32 per cent more than in 2009. The statistics for the current year are yet to be cumulated.
Per seine trawler owners acknowledge that the surge in the fish catch is due to bull trawling and LED light backed fishing. However, trawler owners refute allegations and claim that due to LED backed fishing the fish eco-system is being destroyed and that the fishing industry will be doomed in the near future.
All Goa Per Seine Boat Owners Association (AGPBOA) General Secretary, Seby Cardozo said that the fish caught by those using LED lights venture deep into the sea and do not disturb the fragile eco-system close to the shore.
“Yes, due to LED fishing there has been an increase in the catch. Earlier the fish which would be in deep sea waters would die after its life span, but now we catch that fish and it is then sold in the markets. It is not over fishing, but it is the fish which earlier would die due to their average life span,” Cardozo stated.
Stating that the mesh of the fish nets used for LED fishing is not very small, he said, “We venture deep into the sea where the depth is 200 metres, whereas earlier we would fish only in the depths of 60-70 metres. For 200 metres depth we travel 10 hours from shore. The fish which was earlier not caught we catch now and bring it to shore. Only big size fish is
caught, especially mackerels.”
However, criticising the bull trawling system, he said, “With bull trawling the catch has diminished since they have spoiled the ground. Bull trawling is destructive. They touch the ground and use a very small mesh net and therefore they are destructive.”
Interestingly, during these years mackerels have seen the highest surge from 15,169 tonnes in 2009 to 35,699 tonnes in 2018. Similarly, tuna fish catch, which was at 1,044 tonnes in 2008 increased to 8,861 tonnes in 2018.
However, the catch of prawns, king fish, shark and cat fish has declined over the years. While 9,795 tonnes of prawns were caught in 2009, in 2018 the quantity dropped to 6,772 tonnes. Similarly, the king fish catch that was 2,285 tonnes, dropped to 1,421 tonnes and cat fish catch dropped from 2,279 tonnes in 2009 to 209 tonnes in 2018.
Fish wholesalers pointed out that though the catch of prawns, king fish and shark dropped, the same was being imported into Goa from other States to match up the deficiency.