Mechanised boats may be travelling further into the sea and catching more fish, but they have also doubled the environmental cost of consuming fish in India over the last 50 years.
This is likely to push up cost of fish as the impact on fish stock is felt.
According to a two-year study on diesel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by fishing boats, carbon emissions for every tonne of fish caught increased from 0.50 tonnes in 1961 to 1.02 tonnes in 2010 across six major fishing harbours — Mumbai, Kochi, Munambam (Kerala), Tuticorin, Chennai and Vishakapatnam.
Introduction of mechanised boats has led to a rise in annual carbon emissions from 0.30 million tonnes (mt) in 1961 to 3.60mt in 2010, according to the study by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).
The three-member CMFRI team has attributed the rise to increase in fishing boats and longer hours spent in the sea.
While each trip in the 1980s lasted a day, larger boats today spend five to seven days in the sea.
Burning fuel is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“When CO2 dissolves in water, acidity levels increase and so does the temperature.These conditions will impact fish stock and lead to rise in fishing cost and price of fish,” said E Vivekanandan, principal investigator and emeritus scientist, CMFRI, Chennai.
“Fuel consumption and CO2 emission data can be interpreted to gain an insight into increasing fishing cost and price, to evolve policies on regulating fishing, fuel subsidies, and suggest climate change mitigation measures,” reads the paper
‘Carbon footprint by marine fishing boats of India,’ published in Current Science brought out by the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.