Ashtamudi short-neck clam fisheries becomes India’s first MSC certified fisheries

5th November 2014, Kochi

The short-neck clam (Paphia malabarica) fishery in the Ashtamudi Lake in Kerala has received India’s first Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification which will help boost sustainable fisheries and also protect the ecosystem.  The certification to Ashtamudi short-neck clam fishery — only the third fishery in Asia to have received this recognition — will help in implementation of measures to ensure that this valuable resource will fetch highest price in European Union; it is not over-fished and its ecosystem is protected.

Ashtamudi short-neck clam fisheries becomes India’s first MSC certified fisheriesAshtamudi short-neck clam fisheries becomes India’s first MSC certified fisheriesAshtamudi short-neck clam fisheries becomes India’s first MSC certified fisheries

Ashtamudi Lake is the second largest estuarine system in Kerala and the clam fishery there dates back to 1981, supporting the livelihoods of around 3,000 fishers involved in collection, cleaning, processing and trading the clams.

The growth of Ashtamudi’s clam fishery was driven by demand in Vietnam, Thailand and Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. By 1991, the catch peaked at 10,000 tonnes a year, but declined by 50% in 1993 due to overfishing.  Based on studies by CMFRI, a closed season and mesh size restrictions for nets were introduced, along with a minimum export size and a prohibition on mechanical clam fishing. These measures showed immediate effects, and the clam fishery has sustained landings of around 10,000 tonnes a year for the past decade.

The MSC is an international non-profit organisation set up to help transform the seafood market on a sustainable basis and runs the world’s leading certification and eco-labelling programme for wild-capture fisheries. 

The MSC certification was a joint effort by CMFRI, WWF, State Fisheries Department and the local fishing community. The certification demonstrates the power of collaboration between partners and the importance of a new council-based management system for clam fishery governance.

During the certificate launch function on 5th November 2014 at Kochi, Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan, Director CMFRI welcomed the gathering. Ms. Leena Nair, Chairperson, MPEDA Mr. Hem Pande, Additional Secretary, MoEF and Mr. Ravi Singh, CEO and Secretary General, WWF-India gave speeches.  The MSC certificate was handed over by Dr. David Agnew, Director of Standards, MSC, London to Ms. Thankachi Prabhakaran, President of the Village Panchayat. 

Dr. K. Sunil Mohamed, Head, Molluscan Fisheries Division proposed a vote of thanks.

(Source: CMFRI, Kochi)