Dr. Saly N. Thomas, Sr. Scientist has been selected for Jawaharlal Nehru Award for P.G. Agricultural Research 2004. This award is given for the best Ph. D. Thesis in Fisheries . She did her Ph. D. under the guidance of Prof. Dr. C. Hridayanathan who was the Director of the School of Industrial Fisheries, Cochin University of Science and Technology.
Her thesis entitled `Gill Nets of Kerala: A Study on Technological and Operational Aspects examines gill nets as a low energy fishing technique, with focus on its technological and operational importance in the marine fishing sector of Kerala. While around 46% of the active marine fishermen in Kerala practice gill netting, which is a highly selective and energy efficient fishing method, the associated social status for this technology is relatively low. This research addresses three key issues of fishery management: (i) resource conservation through reduction of juvenile catch rates; (ii) reduction of capital cost; and (iii) contribution to energy efficiency. The selectivity estimates helped in arriving at the minimum mesh size to be used for resource conservation. An effort has been made in this study for the first time in Kerala, towards reduction of investment cost of the gear by substitution of costly polyamide (PA) by polyethylene (PE). A saving of 52% is found possible in the cost of gear alone. The study once again confirmed gill net as a fuel efficient gear. The innovativeness of this work lies in its interdisciplinary approach to analysis of some vital issues affecting the marine fisheries sector of Kerala. Besides, such a methodological approach has great significance in multi-species fishery elsewhere.