Dakshin’s work on reduction fisheries – latest updates from Mangalore

by Abhilasha Sharma

After a thorough planning and ideation phase, our project on reduction fisheries has now taken off in full swing! Reduction fisheries refer to the conversion or reduction of fish caught from the oceans into products like fish meal and fish oil (FMFO) to make feed for industries like poultry and aquaculture. Converting large volumes of fish catch into FMFO rather than using it for direct human consumption can have multiple implications, not only for ecology, but also for the nutritional security and well-being of fishing communities. However, a lack of adequate information on the sector makes it difficult to address these implications. In its initial phase, this project, in collaboration with WWF-India, seeks to develop a broad understanding of the reduction fisheries sector in India. Our work is currently focussed on the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, and aims to understand the scale of operations, species utilization, supply chain, and social-ecological implications of reduction fisheries in these regions.

We started with short, week-long scoping trips to Mumbai and Mangalore to understand the functioning of fishing harbours and landing centres in these cities, build connections, and plan our fieldwork around the area. Following this, over the course of the past two months, researchers Haripriya and Meghana, from our Sustainable Fisheries programme, have mapped the reduction fisheries sector and its supply chain at Mangalore in considerable detail. They conducted interviews with fishers, traders, fishmeal producers, and other stakeholders of the reduction fisheries sector. Alongside, they also looked at the composition of fisheries catch headed to reduction plants, which involved sampling the low-value bycatch from the trawlers.

The field season has turned out to be very fruitful for us. We were not only able to document the reduction fisheries sector in Mangalore but were also able to get information on its linkages with fisheries in other states and sectors like the aquaculture and dried fish industry. Building upon this information, we plan to explore these links further, and in the coming months, will also expand our work to Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

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