MANGALORE May 23: Excessive fishing in the coastal region has resulted in the extinction of fish species such as catfish, according to director of the Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) N.G.K. Pillai.
Mr. Pillai, who was here to participate in a seminar, told The Hindu that a few species, including catfish, had already disappeared from the seas, and many species of fish were on the threshold of “sustainable-level”. He said that about 15 years ago, Karnatakas coastal belt was known for catfish. “Although it is now found in the coasts of other States, including Kerala, it is not available in this region. There were two species of catfish in this region and both of them have disappeared,” he said.
Stating that excessive fishing had affected marine biodiversity, Mr. Pillai called for urgent measures to prevent further damage to the fish species.
Mr. Pillai said export of marine products, in terms of quantity, was declining. Indian exporters were, on the one hand, not able to meet the norms laid down by importers in countries such as the U.S. in some cases and, on the other, they had to cope with competitors in Vietnam, China and Thailand, among others. These countries had taken up aquaculture in a big way, he added.
Besides, the Indian fishing industry should re-invent itself by diversifying and adding value to the products. It could produce and market the ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat kind of products. “Everyone is looking for such products, nowadays,” he said. Indian aqua culturists, whose exports stood at about 1.3 lakh tonnes a year, were facing the problem of disease and they were not able control it. Production cost of aquaculture products was higher in India than in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, he said.
These countries cultivated a new species, “Vanemi”, which was easier to grow and resistant to diseases. There has been a demand to import this variety to try it out in India. That was yet to happen. Import of the species may lead to higher yield. Indian aquaculture industry was grew another species, “Tiger prawn” and “Vanemi” was an exotic species, Mr. Pillai said.
He said that he had instructed the scientists at Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI to organise monthly interactions with fishermen and their leaders in villages so that they could identify new areas of research. On the complaints that research data of the centre were not easily accessible for public, Mr. Pillai said steps were being taken to address this issue.
Mr. Pillai inaugurated the seminar on “Biodiversity”, organised by the Mangalore Research Centre.