Despite an apparent revival in Indian oil sardine catch during 2017, poor catch during rainy days is worrying traditional fishermen. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) reported that oil sardine catch had gone up to 1.27 lakh tonnes in 2017 compared to the poor 45,000 tonne catch in the previous year.

However, with nearly two months into the monsoon season and into the middle of the annual trawling ban, traditional fishermen are complaining that sardine catch has been poor. “Oil sardine is the mainstay of traditional fishermen, and the monsoon season sees substantial landings,” said Charles George of Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi here on Wednesday.

He called upon the government to immediately announce measures to help fishermen who are in dire straits owing to the current sea conditions. They have hardly ventured out into the sea over the past one week, he added. The marine fisheries scene has not recovered fully since cyclone Ockhi hit the Kerala shores early this year, Mr. George claimed.

The poor sardine catch has coincided with a higher price in the retail market for oil sardines. The retail price has gone up to Rs. 140 a kg in the local market, though fishermen have not benefited from it, he said. He claimed that sardines from Oman were being imported to meet shortage in the Kerala market. The Oman variety is being sold at Rs. 200 a kg compared to the higher price fetched by the local catch.

The Fisheries Department has also stepped up vigil against juvenile fishing.

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