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| Last Updated:: 19/11/2014

Global stamp for the Ashtamudi

 Union Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar on Friday announced that the Clam Governing Council of Ashtamudi lake in Kollam, Kerala was the first fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in India.


Speaking at a press conference, he said the fisherfolk decided to go in for sustainable activities after they extracted over 10,000 tonnes of clams from the lake, reducing its capacity over the years. This was the first such certification for India, he pointed out.


The Ashtamudi estuary showcased to the world that development and environmental protection went hand in hand and highlighted the importance of a participatory approach in managing biodiversity at the local level, an official statement said. This achievement also opened up the scope for other fisheries in India to work towards MSC certification, which would enhance conservation and sustainability of the resource, while providing greater economic returns.


The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organisation set up to help transform the seafood market into a sustainable endeavour.


It runs the only certification and eco-labelling programme for wild-capture fisheries. The Ashtamudi short-neck clam fishery is only the third fishery in Asia to have received the recognition, the statement added.


Ashtamudi lake, a Ramsar wetland of international importance, is the second largest estuarine system in Kerala and the clam fishery began in 1981. It supports the livelihood of around 3,000 fisherfolk involved in collection, cleaning, processing and trading clams.


The growth of Ashtamudi’s commercial fishery was driven by demand from Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia in the 1980s and 90s. By 1991, the catch peaked at 10,000 tonnes a year, but declined by 50 per cent in 1993 due to overfishing.


Faced with the prospect of dwindling catch, the community decided to restrict fishing and impose mesh-sized restrictions for nets, along with a minimum export size and a prohibition on mechanical clam fishing, the official statement added. These measures showed immediate results and clam fishery has sustained landings of around 10,000 tonnes a year for the past decade