Hit by a steady decline in the procurement price of marine shrimps meant for export, the fishermen in the southern coast of Tamil Nadu say they would rather keep their boats docked instead of venturing out to the sea. The exporters say the year-round availability of shrimp, that too at a much lesser price, from aquaculture farms is what drives their choice.
Four export traders, including one from Kerala, had been determining the market value of marine shrimp.
While one kilogram of marine shrimps, about 10 pieces, costs Rs 700, farm shrimp is available at Rs 400. Another factor that drives their choice is availability of farm shrimps throughout the year to cater to the demands of buyers globally. TR Sudhakaran Nair, a shrimp exporter from Ramanathapuram, said there was a high demand for cultured shrimp from buyers in Japan, US, Europe, Middle East and Far East countries. Apart from availability, they are also of uniform size, which helps the exporters.
However, added D Durairaj, an exporter from Thoothukudi, the demand has come down. Concurring with him, Sudhakaran Nair said the export has fallen by 10 per cent. Another exporter, J Robert from Mandapam in Ramanathapuram, said the export and price were brought down by competition from other countries. “Countries such as Thailand and Ecuador have been involved in bulk production of shrimp, proving to be a tough competition for us,” Robert said. After the conclusion of the harvest season by the end of July, the exporters here would be affected, as they would have to rely on the farms in Andhra Pradesh for procurement, he added.
But it is not all rosy for the shrimp farms either. Cultured shrimps at some locations were vulnerable to white spot syndrome, a bacterial infection, reducing their productivity. According to B Gunalan, assistant professor, Department of Zoology, Thiru Kolanjiappar Government Arts College, Virudhachalam, L Vannamei was vulnerable to this due to high stocking density.
Nicholas, shrimp buying agent from Salem, opined that such disease could be a localised outbreak, but not an epidemic.