The catch that comes to the market drastically reduces during the annual fishing ban, but whatever is available is sold by the traders at a premium rate. But not this year. With this period coinciding with the lockdown, fishermen and traders say they hardly made any money.
“During the ban period last year, we used to get at least 25-30 tonnes. But this year, we got only six tonnes of fish, as we weren’t able to sell more than that. It was hard to sell even that, forcing us to sell them at a low price to survive,” said Prabhu P from Kasimedu fish market.
Last year, shark was sold for Rs 800, but it fetched them only Rs 500 this year. Same was the case with seer fish (vanjiram) that was sold for Rs 650 this year, while it was Rs 1,200 last year. Even though country boats are permitted, many fishermen did not venture due to the fall in sale.
Pointing out that their business was hit hard by the lockdown, fishermen said the government should relax the restrictions.
“Also, this is not the fishing ban season for other States like Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa, from where fish is brought to Tamil Nadu. They distribute fish to the wholesalers at the major fish markets in the city. But this time, there was no sale of fish. Though the ban is imposed every year, the situation was worse this year due to the lockdown,” said Sankar K, another fisherman.
The fishermen have also urged the government to change the fishing ban period to between October and December, because the sea is rough due to the northeast monsoon. “We have asked the government to change the ban period, because it is not the breeding time for the fish from April to June, and there won’t be any disturbance in fishing activity during the hot weather,” said Nanjal P Ravi, spokesperson, National Union of Fisherman Association.
“If you cut open a fish from April to June, you won’t find any eggs or fish inside. But between October and December, you can find many eggs. That shows the ban period should be changed, but the government is not ready,” he added.