If you love your fish, then you're not probably not looking forward to the monsoons which is a lean period for seafood. Many species of ocean-dwelling fish breed during the rainy season. Catching fish while they are breeding or before they are mature enough to breed puts fish populations at risk of extinction.
Every monsoon, a fishing ban is enforced along Indian coasts to prevent overfishing, protect fish stocks, and allow them to recover. Unfortunately, many breeding species continue to land up in markets even during the monsoon months.
On a larger scale, the state of India's oceans is no different from the rest of the world's: overfishing and destructive commercial fishing practices threaten marine life and leave those dependent on the oceans without a livelihood. India's fish output has more than doubled since 1990, standing at 3.9 million tonnes today and the country's demand for seafood is only expected to grow. There's never been a better time for governments and fishing businesses to commit to sustainable fishing.
As consumers, we share this responsibility - by knowing our seafood and its impact on the environment better, and by making more sustainable food choices.
Know Your Fish is an initiative that helps consumers make more informed seafood choices based on seasonality - an important guiding force while eating wild foods like fish. Started by a team of researchers, the Know Your Fish calendar uses years of scientific data to tell you what's the best time to buy a particular species of fish and in which months to steer clear of it. For instance, kingfish they say, is best avoided in October and November when the species breeds along the West Coast.
It also makes recommendations based on fishing techniques of certain species, like prawn, which endanger other forms of marine life in the process.
The calendar provides information about nine commonly consumed species of seafood including Mackerel, Kingfish, Barramundi, Pomfret and Prawn, but month wise guides on their website feature many more species.
The calendar can be used to guide seafood consumption by those living along the West Coast in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
With a long and fecund coastline, India is a major supplier and consumer seafood and it is important that we support a sustainable fishing industry by making seafood choices that will secure a healthy future for our oceans and continue to feed a growing population.
Download the calendar here.