Choora or tuna, is the staple food of Lakshadweep Islands. A visitor to the island will be served a tuna curry, fry or the mas pickle that are made from dried skipjack tuna at least once a day. Fishers go tuna fishing early in the morning (not during nights) except on Fridays and during Ramzan. They carry live fish collected from the lagoons as bait for tuna. Tuna fishing on the Lakshadweep islands is based on the pole and line technique. It is said to be a sustainable mode of fishing as it targets only the abundant tuna and the fish is collected and distributed for daily consumption and not really stored. It sustains the livelihood of islanders. Tuna fishing was introduced to the rest of the Lakshadweep islands from Minicoy. This introduction happened during the time of an administrator who is said to have wanted the ‘lazy’ islanders to engage in income generation work to alleviate their poverty. But, as an islander friend pointed out, the administrators who introduced fishing had forgotten to introduce the customary laws from Minicoy onto the islands. In his opinion, all the conflicts regarding the use of fish and fishing grounds today is due to the absence of a robust customary law unlike that of Minicoy. Scientists point out that there is an increased competition today for live bait where the fishers resort to the use of torches in the night. The demand for reef fishes in distant markets outside the islands are cited as another reason for this tension. Tuna is canned in the sole canning factory in Minicoy and exported to the mainland. The increasing market demand for canned tuna and reef fishes are poised to upset the delicate arrangements around a sustainable fishery of these fragile islands.
Choora – Title for the Story
Contributor: Lakshmi Pradeep