Deployment of square mesh cod-ends in shrimp trawling ops reduces bycatch

New Delhi, Oct 22 (FN Agency) The deployment of square mesh cod-ends in shrimp trawling operations considerably reduces bycatch and improves sustainability of fishing operations – according to studies conducted by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in association with the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) Cochin, Fisheries Department, Ramanathapuram, and the Fishermen Associations in Mandapam, Rameshwaram and Kottaipattinam fishing harbours. A release from MSSRF on Saturday said stakeholder consultation on the ‘Use of Square Mesh Cod-end in Shrimp Trawling’ was organised by MSSRF on Friday at Thangachimadam Village Resource Centre, here to encourage promotion of square mesh cod-end in shrimp trawling so as to reduce bycatches.

Dr. G. N. Hariharan, Executive Director, MSSRF and chief guest of the programme released the handbook on ‘Voluntary Code of Practice (CoP) on Flower Shrimp Management in Palk Bay region’. The CoP on flower shrimp management was developed in Tamil to sensitise local fishers on sustainable harvesting of flower shrimp. Legal compliance and sustainable fishing practices is the base for developing the voluntary code of practice. By adopting the fishing practices described in this Code, the fishermen will contribute to sustainable fishing practices by securing a healthy shrimp stock, thereby minimising a degrading impact on the marine ecosystem. In his speech, Dr Hariharan highlighted what MSSRF is doing in natural resource management using participatory bottom-up approach, and the need for such approaches in fisheries management that is vital for sustainable management of fishery resources in the region. The catch data from the fishers are significant for decision-making and additional strengthening of research.

Dr. S. Velvizhi, Head of MSSRF Fish for All Centre in Poompuhar, who is the Principal Investigator of the project, presented research outcomes of the study conducted in the Palk Bay region by the Centre. She said among the three Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD) tested, the square mesh cod-ends with a mesh size of 25 mm (12.5 mm bar length) as the most effective in the reduction of bycatch and the least reduction of commercial catch when compared to the control net in flower shrimp trawling. On an average, the reduction in the bycatch was about 3-5 kg per hour of operation, which is incredibly significant. The fraction discarded comprises of juveniles from commercially important species, which if allowed to grow can fetch nearly three to four times more than the price it fetches when released from the bycatch. More than 100 fishers and fishermen association leaders participated in the event. The 25mm square mesh cod-end suitable for flower shrimp trawling has been distributed to 75 selected master fishermen who voluntarily came forward to use ot and promote the concept in the region.