Fisheries ::Island Fisheries


India is endowed with two unique oceanic island ecosystems, the Lakshadweep island ecosystem and theAndaman-Nicobar island ecosystem, both distinctly different in their topography, physical characteristics, climate, ecology,fauna, flora, culture and traditions.

Status of fisheries in the Lakshadweep islands

The Union Territory of Lakshadweep consists of a chain of 11inhabited and several uninhabited islands, scattered in the Arabian Sea between latitude 08° 00' and 12° 30'N and longitude 71° OO'E and 74° 00' E, at about 200--400 km away from the Kerala coast. The archipelago consists of 12 atolls, 3 .reefs and 5 submerged banks. There are 36 islands, covering an area of 32 km2.The inhabited islands are Androth,`Amini, Kalpeni, Agatti, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadamat, Kaileni, Kavaratti, Kitan, Minicoy and Bengaram. Among the uninhabited islands, Suheli is a coconut growing and fishing centre. Pitti island is a small reef. with sand bank covering an area of 1.2 ha where thousands of birds nest and is now designated as a bird sanctuary. All islands except Androth have a lagoon. Bitra has a magnificent lagoon. These being oceanic islands, the continental shelf area around them are limited to 4,336 km2.However, the lagoons altogether have an area of 4,200 km2offering immense biotic diversity and potential. Also, the territorial waters around the island provide about 400,000 km2 offering extensive fisheries potential. Lakshadweep has a long history of being a traditionally maritime community of sailors, traders and fishers for centuries. The mainstay of the community is coconuts and marine fish caught mostly through traditional fishing methods.

Fisheries resources

The major fishery resources of the island include the oceanic resources such as tuna, billfishes, pelagic sharks, marlins, sailfish and other groups of food fishes such as flying fish, barracuda, seerfish, rainbow runner, garfishes, halfbeaks, snappers, perches, clupeids, carangids, breams, trigger fishes, rays, octopus, etc. The live baits and ornamental fishes of the islands are exclusive living resources of the islands. While the live baits are essential components in the traditional pole and line fishery for the capture of tuna, the ornamentals have immense potential for export trade. The common species of tuna in the Lakshadweep waters are: skipjack Katsuwonus pelamis! yellowfin Thunnus albacares, frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and little tunny Euthynnus affinis. The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has reported 601 species of fishes from the Lakshadweep waters. The commercial tuna fishery of the islands presently depend mainly on the skipjack. The potential annual yield of tunas is estimated to be about 50,000 tonnes and all other fishes another 50,000 tonnes against the current yield of 10,000 tonnes, which is only 10% of the harvestable potential.

Fishing methods

One of the limiting factors in the development of the pole and line fishing is the availability of live baits. Live bait fishes are used for chumming and attracting the tuna shoals. Live baits are essential for operation of the pole and line fishery. These fishes caught from the reefs and lagoons and kept in live condition in special region of the boats for use at the time of capture. There are 21 species of live baits available in the Lakshadweep waters, of which over a dozen species are normally used for fishing. The most common are Spratelloides delicatulus, S.japonicus, Apogon sangiensis, A. savayensis and Chromis tematensis.

The major fish landing centres are in the islands of Agatti, Suheli, Minicoy, Bitra and Androth. With the introduction and gradual increase in the number of the mechanized fishing vessels, the marine yield has been steadily increasing to about 10,000 tonnes annually. The highest landings are in Agatti, which on an average contributed to 31%, followed by Minicoy (17%), Suheli (14%), Kavarati (8%), Androth (8%), Bitra (6%), Kiltan (6%), Chethlath (5%), Amini (2%), Kadamath (2%) and Kalpeni (1%). Although the potential for tuna alone is over 50,000 tonnes, the current yields are too small in contrast to those from Maldives (148,000 tonnes) and Sri Lanka (27,000 tonnes).

The major species landed from the islands are K. pelamis (86%), T.albacares (12%) and E. affinis (2%). The traditional pole and line fishing accounts for over 97% of the catch followed by troll lines. For the past 15years, about 300 boats have been operating the pole and line for tuna in the islands. These boats of 25 to 35 feet OAL conduct single day fishing trips, sometimes operating two trips per day during the peak season. Larger boats with higher capacity can not be introduced because of the shallow nature of the lagoons. The CPUE and mean sizes have remained more or less steady over the past many years. Tuna landings in Androth have increased since 1994 after the introduction of drift gillnetting and fishing in distant grounds such as Elikalpeni Bank. Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) were introduced on experimental scale in the lagoons and open seas in 2002. The data buoys for Arabian Sea Monsoon Experiments installed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, which are 16-26 nautical miles from Minicoy and Kavaratti aggregate young tuna, which the fishermen find convenient to locate using GPS and attractive to operate fishing gear because of assured catch.

Status of fisheries in the Andaman and Nicobar islands

The Andaman and Nicobar group of islands enjoy the status of an archipelago. These islands are situated in the Bay of Bengal lying between 6° 45' N and 13° 41' N latitude and 92° 12'E and 93° 57'E longitude. There are more than 550 islands, islets and rocky outcrops in the archipelago. These islands are typically oceanic in nature and encompass an EEZ of 0.6 million km2.This area is about 28% of the Indian EEZ. These islands have an aggregate coast line of 1,962 km. The continental shelf around these islands is very narrow and on the western side relatively wider, extending up to 10 nautical miles in some places. All together the continental shelf is 35,000 km2. These islands have diverse ecosystems like evergreen forests, mangroves, sandy beaches, tidal flats, coral reefs, etc. The mangroves occupy around 115 km2, while the "-coral reefs are spread across an area of more than 2,000 km2. Earlier studies have shown that the Andaman seas are oligotropic in nature with relatively low (273 mgC/m2/day) primary and low (288.8 mgC/m2/day) secondary productivity. However, primary production of Nicobar region is significantly higher than that of the rest of Andaman seas. The limitations in the extend of continental shelf are c°n:tpensatedby presence of numerous bays, creeks and inlets on the landward side and vast areas of productive oceanic waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman seas on the east coasts.

In few islands, fishing is carried out by aborigines with bow and arrows and by the Nicobari tribes with spears. Therefore, the development of fisheries in these islands has been tardy. The crafts and gears used by the fishermen are of the traditional type and of limited capacity. The fisheries is thus mostly confined to limited areas. Endurance for high sea fishing, exploratory and multi-day fishing, fishing for coastal tunas, oceanic tunas and other straddling stocks are not possible with the limited capacity of the craft and gear. Further, lack of modem and adequate infrastructure for landing, storage, processing and transportation of fish and fishery products, remoteness of the islands from the main land, limitations in marketing and trade, both for local as well as consumption on the mainland, poor information and communication facilities, lack of adequate data on the stock size, availability and accessibility coupled with lack of a proper fisheries development action plan have contributed to the inadequate and unorganized development of fisheries in the A & N islands. A roadmap for the Development of Fisheries in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANDFISH 2005) has been prepared for comprehensive fisheries development of the islands. Rivers, from time immemorial, are said to be the lifeline for living beings, as all types of developments, in some way or the other are related to them. They have played a vital role in the development of human civilization since they provide basic necessities of life, water and food, on which depends the survival of living-beings.

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