Decline in Fish Availability Linked to Warmer Sea Temperatures

Rising sea temperatures have led to a noticeable decrease in the availability of fish, affecting traditional summer staples such as squid (koonthal), mackerel (Ayala), prawns, anchovy (natholi), and sardines (Chala). Normally abundant during March-April, these fish are now scarce, with only half the usual quantities being caught. The warmer waters have prompted the fish to seek cooler depths, resulting in reduced catches for fishermen.

Even the historically rich Kollam fishing bank, which stretches from Vizhinjam to Kochi, has seen a decline in fish hauls. Fishermen report returning with empty boats more often than not, attributing the drop in availability to fluctuations in sea temperature. High temperatures have not only affected fish populations but also forced fishermen to shorten their time at sea due to adverse conditions.

Adding to the challenges faced by the fishing industry are restrictions on fishing in neighboring states, leading to the import of fish from regions like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Goa. These imports are necessary to meet demand but come with their own set of logistical and economic challenges.

Overall, the fishing industry is grappling with declining fish stocks, rough seas, and soaring fuel prices, with operating costs exceeding Rs 1 lakh per trip for fishing boats. These challenges make it increasingly difficult for fishermen to sustain their livelihoods, highlighting the urgent need for solutions to address the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

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