On Your Mark, Get Set, Fish! Fishermen Gearing Up for Fishing Business Again
Mangaluru: Got Machali! The Bunder fishing dock area is once again back in action with fishermen gearing up for fishing. After the 61-day ban on fishing ended on Tuesday 31 July, it’s once again fishing season starting today, 1 August. The government had banned fishing in deep sea trawlers, purse seine and mechanized boats from June 1 to July 31 in the west coast. But Country boats with less than 10 HP outboard engines have been carrying out fishing even during the ban period.
Although the fishing season has started again, the Coast Guard has urged the community to take precautionary measures. The Coast Guard has urged fishermen to undertake seaworthiness checks of their boats in a systematic manner. Special community interaction programmes with the fishing community would be organized to sensitize them on safety aspects. Special instructions from the coast guard are : The fishermen should check weather forecasts, carry distance alerting transmitters, radio communication equipment, life-saving appliances, documents of boats, Biometric identity cards, additional mobile phones/batteries, temporary repair kits, first aid kit, extra fuel and ration, flashlights with additional batteries and necessary medicines while venturing into sea.
Fishing boats should operate either in pairs or groups. Coast Guard Karnataka has also requested all merchant ships and shows to follow the laid down SOPs (standard operating procedures). The masters of the merchant vessels should ensure seaworthiness of their vessels. They should also ensure even loading and proper securing of the cargo. Frequent rounds of the ships should be undertaken. Maintenance and upkeep of the machinery and propulsion systems should be undertaken as per schedule. The second anchor and chain cable should be kept standby in case of the merchant vessels at anchorage. The following numbers may also be contacted in case of emergency: Police-100, Coast Guard-0824 2405269/2405270 and Ambulance-108. In case of distress, details like GPS position, type of emergency, the colour of boat and number of the crew including photograph should be forwarded for timely assistance.
More than the roughness of the sea during monsoon season, the main reason for the 61-day ban was environmental since it is the breeding season for fish and they lay eggs along the coast during the season. Hence, most of the fish will be along the coast at during the period and easily fall prey to the trawler boats. The reckless fishing during monsoon will adversely affect fishing in the later months. During this ban period, the fishermen worked on their boats, paint them, check for any maintenance, repairing nets etc.
Sources reveal that Karnataka has 5.93 lakh hectares of inland water resources, 8,000 hectares of brackish water and 320 km of coastline with 27,000 sq. km of the continental shelf. The State has nearly 17,927 fishing boats and trawlers with 3.28 lakh people being employed in the fishing industry. Karnataka is ranked sixth in marine fish production in India (about 5.55 lakh tonnes every year). There are 65 purse seine boats in Dakshina Kannada (and 89 in Udupi), 1,370 gill-net boats (3,998 in Udupi), 515 traditional boats (1,871 in Udupi) and 1,018 trawl boats in Dakshina Kannada (1,949 in Udupi). There are nearly 66,000 fishermen in Dakshina Kannada and 1.20 lakh fishermen in Udupi district.
During the fishing ban, fish lovers had to shell out big bucks to buy their favourite fish, but now with the fishing back into the business, fish consumers are hoping that the price of fish would come down. During the ban period, since the fish was supplied to Mangaluru from Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh coast, the price of fish was high due to transportation cost. Mohammed Iqbal, a fish boat owner speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “Fishing will be in full operation within a couple of days. Few boats will venture into the sea later today, and many others will start operating in the next few days. Presently fish is been hauled into the city from other coastal regions. Once the fishing activity gets into full swing, and when the catch is good, surely the price of fish will come down drastically. Until then fish lovers have to bear with us”.
Mohan Bengre-President of Purse-Seine Boat Owners Association-Mangaluru said, ” Even though fishermen are anxious to venture into the sea today itself, but with limited mooring space and manoeuvring area at the fishing harbour, it is impossible for all fishing boats to sail away today. The Trawl boats could start sailing today, but purse-seine liners have to wait until 5 August. We are hoping to have a very good fishing season this year, which will also benefit the consumer with the low fish price”.
So after a long break of two months, fishermen are back into business with happy and smiling faces, so that they can start earning income again. Sumathi, who was busy counting her money speaking to Team Mangalorean said, ” For the last two months my earning was half the income I make during the busy season. I can’t wait for the next few days when I can earn some extra bucks to pay for my household expenses. Many of us also clean fish for restaurant and hotel owners, and that is an added income for us also”.
And after a Hectic Fishing Work, and gulping down a few pegs of Whisky, it’s “Relaxing” time for this Fisherman?
Now that the fishing season will commence fully within the next few days, fish lovers could expect prices of their favourite fish to come down from what they have been paying for the last two months, where white pomfret fish cost was Rs 700-800 a kg, while Seer/Anjal fish costing around Rs 800-1000. Don’t even think of buying prawns now, since they are expensive, since all the fish supplied to Mangaluru during the last two months comes from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. So hold on to your breath for a few days more, when you can take home your favourite “Machali” for less.