Pomfret contribute one of the main groups of table fish in India. They are found every where in the tropical sea of the Indo-pacific region. Though the pomfret occur all along the coast of India, the main area of abundance are Gujrat, Bombay coasts on the west coast and Orissa and lower West Bengal on east coast. Of these, the major landings are from Gujrat fish landings. The following three species contribute fishery in Indian waters.
Of the three species the silver pomfret is most common P.niger is next in importance and P.chinensis though common in east coast, is rare in west Coast.
Along the Bombay coasts, Alibag, Revadanda,Versova,Basein,Utta,Arnala and Satpathi are some of the main centres where pomfrets are landed in abundance.
Along, Gujrat coast, Madhward, Kotda, Muldwarka, Dhamle, Sutrapada, Veraval, Jaleswar,Hirakot,Mangrol and Porbuder are the main areas where pomfrets and landed.
Along the Bombay coast, the season is from September-January, the peak season being October-December. On the Gujrat coast also the fishery starts in September but continuous upto May, the peak period being March-May 58076 tonnes of pomfrets were landed during 1989.
Bag net locally known, as Dol net is the main gear for pomfrets in Bombay and Gujrat coast. The net is one operated for pomfrets in mid waters. The fishing ground is 10-15 miles off the coasts in 7-18 fathoms. In addition deep set gill nets operated in depths of 18-22 fathoms is an important gear for pomfrets in Gujrat coast. Pomfret is also caught in trawl nets. In dol and trawl net a higher percentage of small sized fish is caught as compared to gill net catches.
The pomfrets feed on macro zooplankton; salpids, hydromedusae forming the major items. The juveniles feed mainly on small crustaceans. E.g. acetes, lucifer etc. the pomfret appears to be mid water species, which leads a bottom life during the earlier immature stages and the change of habitat may be one of the reasons for the change in their food habits.
Silver pomfrets attain first maturity at 27-28 cm., the maximum size being 33 cm. Spawning in Bombay coasts is from October-December. Juveniles are available in inshore areas from January to March. However, at Veraval on the Gujrat coast, matured and spent fish are caught during the period April to June. This difference in the spawning period may be due two different non-homogenous stocks.
Fecundity ranges from 65,700-1,72,000 in fish ranging from 28-32 cm.
P.niger attains first maturity at a length of 30-32 cm., maximum size being 60 cms. The spawning is from July-October with peak season in August-September.
Juveniles of black pomfrets appear in trawl catches in September and occur in good numbers during October-December. They spawn in deeper waters of 15-20 fathoms and beyond.
The promfrets do not shoal like sardines or mackerel but move in large schools. They are generally found in the surface and lower columns of water.