Expect Higher Fish Prices Soon- Lockdown has Worsen Fishing Activity Putting Boat Owners in Loss
Mangaluru: After the government enforced a fortnight-long partial lockdown from Tuesday night till May 12, Fishermen are unable to sell the entire catch before the closing time, of 10:00 am. The fishing sector that was already hit by delay in diesel subsidy reimbursement and a drastic reduction in catch is gasping under COVID-19 restrictions as fishermen are unable to get a good price for their catch, within the four hours of morning relaxation window. This morning the price of some of the fish have reached very high- Seer fish aka Anjal is Rs 1200 per kg, Ladyfish aka Kane over Rs 1000 per kg, Mackerels aka Bangude Rs 220 per kg, and so on – these are the prices gone up since a few days.
The three coastal districts, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada, had robust marine fishing till a few years ago which, of late, has been affected by reduced catch. An increase in the number of deep-sea vessels, unbridled marine resources exploitation and environmental pollution have all contributed to the reduction in marine resources, according to the owners in the fishing sector.
With the government enforcing the fortnight-long partial lockdown from Tuesday night till May 12 with a window for buying essentials between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., fishermen are finding it difficult to dispose of whatever catch they land in the deep sea. Ramesh Kotian, a fisherman working on a deep-sea vessel based at the Bunder Port/Dakke, said that they have to return to the harbour only after 6 a.m. and dispose of the entire catch before 9 a.m. The police begin closing down operations from 9 a.m. itself, he said. Thus, fishermen are deprived of a good price for their catch as there is no bargaining and also, they are in a hurry to dispose of the catch.
No Face Masks nor Social Distancing at the Bunder Port/Dakke
Kotain wondered why the government which equates fishing with agriculture is not allowing fishing activities throughout the day. The situation is similar in almost all major fishing ports along the coast, including Malpe, Gangolli, Honnavar and Karwar. Many fishermen have already anchored their vessels due to reduced catch and non-payment of diesel subsidy. The present partial lockdown has only worsened the situation with more and more fishermen intending to halt fishing activities ahead of the monsoon fishing holidays, said Raju Puthran, another fisherman.
Many owners of fishing firms have already sent back workers from other states, like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Kerala working in the fishing boats. As the present condition due to lockdown has worsened, the boat owners find it hard to earn a good income, thereby putting them in huge losses. It should be noted that by May-end, the fishing season comes to a close after which the annual fishing holiday begins. While only a few fishermen from other states are still here, the boat owners are still bearing their stay expenses, food, salary etc. This is one reason many boat owners have decided to send out of Mangaluru fishermen back.
As per the lockdown rules, the fish sale has to be conducted between 6 am and 10 am but by the time fishes received in boats are disposed of, it is normally 10 am. How the fish are to be sold thereafter, is a big problem.