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Union Fisheries Minister Inaugurates Artificial Reef Project off Vizhinjam Coast

In Agriculture
January 19, 2024

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
The installation of artificial reef units off the coasts of fishing villages in Kerala will help enhance the income of traditional fishermen, said Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala today.

Rupala was speaking through videoconferencing while inaugurating the project to deploy 6,300 artificial reef units off the coast of fishing villages in this district. The innovative project will boost sustainable fishing, enhance marine landscape and foster better livelihood for the fishermen, he said.

Kerala Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian presided over the state-level launch of the project and flagged off the work off the coast of Vizhinjam. The scheme, initiated by the Central government under the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) and State Fisheries Department, seeks to fortify the fishery productivity of the coastal expanses while ensuring sustainable resource management.

In his online address, Shri Rupala said approval had been granted to Kerala for installation of artificial reef and promotions of sustainable fisheries and livelihood under PMMSY with a total allocation of Rs 302 crore. The Department of Fisheries, Government of India, has proposed to sanction artificial reefs in all 3,477 fishing villages across the entire coastal line of the country, he said.

Noting that project reflected the nation’s commitment to preserve marine biodiversity and enhance fishery resources, Rupala said the artificial reefs will not only provide support to the marine ecosystem but will also enhance the income of traditional fishermen.

“We are facing environmental challenges due to human activities and climate change, besides depletion of natural resources. The artificial reef project is a proactive step that has been taken under the PMMSY for sustainability of marine ecosystem. It plays a crucial role in rejuvenating and protecting marine life by providing habitat for various species to thrive,” he said.

The artificial reefs contribute to the restoration of fish population and help protect the shoreline erosion and create opportunities for scientific research and ecosystem, Rupala added.

In his address, Cherian said the project was the outcome of collaborative efforts dedicated to fostering a sustainable and thriving marine ecosystem that would immensely benefit the fishing community.

The Kerala government secured approval for the project — ‘Promotion of Sustainable Fisheries and Livelihoods in Kerala State through the Installation of Artificial Reefs’ — under the PMMSY scheme, with an allocation of Rs. 13.02 crore.

Of the total amount allocated for the project, the Central Government provides Rs 7.812 crore while the state government’s share is Rs 5.208 crore, he said.

The project entails the strategic deployment of 6,300 artificial reef units along the coastline, benefiting 42 fishing villages in Thiruvananthapuram district. A total of 150 artificial reef modules, presenting three distinct varieties – Triangular (80 units), Floral (35 units), and Fused Pipe Type (35 units) -will be deployed across these villages.

Each robust RCC (reinforced cement concrete) reef module weighs exceeding one ton, which ensures durability of these marine installations.

Cherian said the suitable sites for deploying the artificial reefs, created with the technical support of CMFRI (Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute), were selected by consulting various fishing groups in the area.

The modules will be positioned with the help of GPS and deposited on the seabed at a depth of 12 to 15 fathoms in the presence of fishermen to avoid destruction. Members of Artificial Reef Sub Committee and the officials of Department of Fisheries will also be present.

In his welcome address, K S Srinivas, Principal Secretary, Fisheries and Ports Department, Government of Kerala, said traditional fishermen will substantially benefit from the project and breeding of fish is expected to happen within 200 days.

Nizamudheen, Ward Councillor; P. I. Sheik Pareeth, Managing Director, Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC); Dr Adeela Abdulla, Director, Fisheries Department; T V Balakrishnan, Chief Engineer; Dr Joe K Kizhakudan, Principal Scientist and Head, CMFRI, Visakhapattanam, were also present.

The project will also curb the relentless overexploitation by mechanized vessels that are causing an alarming decline of Kerala’s rich fishery resources.

The strategically placed reefs in near-shore waters will emerge as optimal fishing grounds, offering traditional fishermen convenient access to a bountiful catch. This will also simplify the fishing process and result in a notable reduction in operational costs, particularly fuel expenses.