Given the widening gap between the demand and supply, Kerala will be a net deficit State in terms of fish availability and needs to rely on arrivals or imports for domestic supply.
For daily consumption, on an average of 2000-2500 tonnes of fish is required and the domestic supply caters to only 60 per cent. The remaining has to be sourced or imported from other states or countries.
The demand-supply gap will be widened every year, indicating that Kerala will require 50 per cent of fish from other States to meet the demand in 2035, reveals a study on fish trade by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
Despite a soaring demand, the fish prices in the State registered a fall last year.
Karnataka tops the list of the States from where fish arrives to Kerala by contributing 153 tonnes (22 per cent) followed by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the study, which was carried out by Shyam S Salim, Principal Scientist and his team at the Socio Economic Evaluation and Technology Transfer Division found.
Fish prices also registered a fall of 15 to 20 per cent last year which is higher than the increase in landings.
The study assumes significance in the context that fish price rose 35 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014.
A drastic decline was recorded in the price of mackerel (30.6 per cent).
Even the species like Sardine, Mackerel, Anchovies, Barracuda and Threadfin Breams which are the favourite varieties among consumers in the State experienced a price fall of 20.7 per cent.Among the different fishes, sardine becomes the mainstay of the arrivals which is nearly 256 tonnes constituting more than 37.4 per cent of the total arrivals.
To meet the growing demand and reduce the supply-demand gap, the study suggests that government should intervene in increasing fish production by boosting inland aquaculture and mariculture activities like cage fish farming.
The study also suggested fixing minimum support prices for fish to support fishermen in terms of surplus landings to prevent sale at throwaway prices and maximum ceiling price to help consumers when the price soars up above the limits of the consumers.
“Minimum support price and maximum ceiling price will act as stabilising measures in ensuring better distribution across the value chain”, the study said.