Thursday, June 27, 2019


Oil sardine catch along Kerala coast may reduce in coming years: CMFRI
Monday, 07 January, 2019, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
The Indian oil sardine stock along the Kerala coast is likely to suffer a major setback during the coming years, according to the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). The scientists at the institute were of the view that as El Nino gained momentum, the sardine stock in Kerala waters may be severely affected, leading to a substantial drop in catch.

“Though there was a marginal increase in the production of sardines in 2017 after a record low harvest in 2016, once again the El Nino, that began to gain pace before the sardine stock revived to its normal level from an earlier depletion, may spell disaster on Kerala’s fisheries sector with a dwindling catch of sardines,” they added.

After studying the data of fluctuations in the production of oil sardines for the last 60 years, the scientists at the Pelagic Fisheries Division of the CMFRI concluded that El Nino was the major factor that caused depletion of oil sardine stock.  

“Although a record catch of nearly four lakh tonne of oil sardines was registered in the state in 2012, a gradual decrease was recorded in the landings during the following years owing to the development of El Nino,” said E M Abdussamad, principal scientist, CMFRI.

A sharp decline to about 46,000 tonne was experienced in 2016 following a strong El Nino year in 2015. With the intensity of the El Nino decreased, the sardine catch registered an increase in 2017.

“The Climate Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is an international agency focussing on the conditions of the oceans, warned in December 2018 that El Nino was expected to strengthen during the coming seasons. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) also stated that 2018 was an evolving El Nino year, and that 2019 may be warmer due to El Nino and global warming,” Abdussamad said, adding that with the El Nino getting strengthened the catch of sardine from the Kerala coast might be decreased. He stated that 2018 also saw a stagnation in the catch of sardine from the state compared to the previous year.

Abdussamad added that the oil sardine along the Kerala coast suffered growth retardation and spawning failure in 2015 and 2016, thanks to El Nino. “What is more alarming now is that El Nino has struck again even before the resource recovered from biological stress like spawning failure in full scale, which is likely to cause further troubles to the sardine stock in Kerala,” he said.

“Indian oil sardine is a sensitive pelagic fish whose biological cycle will easily be upset even due to slight differences in the ocean ecosystem. The impact of El Nino is more evident along the Kerala coasts than other areas of the country. Hence, the fluctuation in oil sardine catch is always high along the south-west coast,” Abdussamad added.

“El Nino has been proved to be seriously influencing the growth and reproduction of oil sardine resources in this coast. In addition, it has been noted that sardine used to migrate from Kerala to other coasts during El Nino years,” he said.

A book with detailed analysis and latest findings about oil sardines, prepared by CMFRI, will be released soon.
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