ICAR-CIFT’s work on ‘Food and fishing gear loss’, the first attempt from the country in the area of fishing gear loss has got appreciation from Rome based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and published by the world food body as ‘FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No.1204 `Food and gear loss from selected gillnet and trammel net fisheries of India’ (Thomas, S.N., Edwin, L., Chinnadurai, S., Harsha, K., Salagrama, V., Prakash, R., Prajith, K.K., Diei-Ouadi, Y., He, P. and Ward, A. 2020. Food and gear loss from selected gillnet and trammel net fisheries of India. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1204. Rome, FAO. https://doi.org/10.4060/ca8382en).
This publication assumes significant importance as it is the first work from India on assessment of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) which is a major problem leading to “ghost fishing”. It is estimated that around 6.40,000 tonnes of all fishing gear (Approximately 10% of the total usage) is lost or discarded in our oceans annually, in bad weather or when nets get stuck to the rocky bottom (FAO, 2009). Besides, assessment studies on food loss from the fish harvest sector is a rather unexplored area in the country. In the context of emerging issues in food security and resource conservation, this work is very relevant.
The result was the outcome of a FAO funded project on `Assessment of fish and gear loss from selected gillnet and trammel net fisheries of India’ taken up by ICAR-CIFT, Kochi in October 2016 and the report of which was submitted in March 2018 on its successful completion. The project was undertaken by a team of scientists from ICAR-CIFT led by Dr. Saly N Thomas, Principal Scientist (Fishing Technology) along with Dr.Venkatesh Salagrama, Director, ICM, Kakinada and Dr. E. Vivekanandan, Former HOD, ICAR-CMFRI, Cochin as Advisor.
The published work presents information on the types, causes and levels of losses, as well as technological, social, environmental and policy options to reduce losses from fishing and post-harvest operations in selected gillnet and trammel fisheries of the country. The review of the secondary data gave a preliminary understanding of fish and gear losses in India. The research team conducted an extensive research survey collecting primary data from 12 locations and 583 fishing vessels across the country.
The study also found that gillnet fisheries were characterized by sizeable losses of both fish and gear with a number of causes being highlighted. The combined loss of fish and nets amounted to almost one third of a motorized vessel owner’s income, and was significantly higher than the household’s expenditure on fishing, household maintenance, quality-of-life costs (healthcare, etc.), loan servicing, or leisure activities. Conclusions seek to locate the fish and gear losses in the wider fisheries and macroeconomic context, and emphasize the need to address them as part of broader and holistic development and management agendas.