Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India

Volume 35 Issue 1&2

Conflicting interests in the use of Kerala's penaeid shrimp resources : A case in question.

David Stephen, James David and P. E. Vijaya Anand

In the drive to increase foreign excharge on the shrimp resource base, the development strategy has been to bring additional backwater area under the open semi-intensive culture system. Apparently, the nature of the shrimp resource complex is such that any increased harvesting/trapping of post larvae and juveniles in the backwaters (nursery grounds) will adversely affect the recruitment levels in the fishing grounds. The case in question is the Cochin Backwater System, along the adjacent sea in which, overfishing has contributed to reduced catches. Further, loss of nursery grounds due to large: scale enclosures for mariculture, will greatly reduce the natural ingress and survival of postlarvae in the backwaters. Hence, the government policy on the promotion of open semi-intensive culture system appears to be flawed.

Against this background, we examine the emerging competing interests and conflicting uses of the resource with the basic research questions directed toward what constitutes optimal use; what is the alternative in terms of maximising social benefits and what policies may be formulated. In the evolving resources-development scenario, the rational allocation and future use of the shrimp resource is seriously threatened by environmental externalities and competing forces that are peripheral to the fisheries sector. In the allocation of penaeid shrimp resources, a balance predicated by the life-cycle of the species and socio-economic exigencies must be established for sustainable use. Furthermore, in the case at hand, the options to continue shrimp farming or to translocate in a phased manner to other brackish water systems along the coast requires urgent examination, in view of the grave environmental problems there. This study provides some useful insights into the complexity of managing a renewable, but shared aquatic resource along a developing coast.

Date : 31-10-1993