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Locals have only leftover catch as seafood export picks up

After struggling to sustain their livelihood during the period when lockdown restrictions were implemented strictly, the seafood traders are gradually coming back on track in parts of north and central parts of the city.

Locals have only leftover catch as seafood export picks up
File picture of crowd at Kasimedu fishing harbour.


With the city returning to normal life after the restrictionswere eased, these traders, who were dependent on online sales, havebegun the traditional direct sales model that is less cumbersome andoffer better margins.

Traders at Kasimedu and Chintadripet, where marine export is a major business, said the cost of seafood is all set to increase to the pre-pandemic level after Pongal. “With China and parts of Europe restoring seafood import from Tamil Nadu, the cost of first quality marine products has already surged beyond the pre-Covid levels,” said Mohammad Kasim, an exporter in Chintadripet.

For instance, the cost of one kilo XXL mud crab is now Rs 2,600, an increase of Rs 1,000 in the last three months. Similarly, tiger prawn and lobsters, which are traded in US dollars, have also witnessed a 20 per cent increase in price in the past two months, Kasim said.

Meanwhile, though the opening up of international markets has cheered the exporters, the local traders are upset over the rising cost that is affecting domestic market which had thrived in the recent past.

“There are five-size based categories of crabs that are sold locally in Chintadripet and also exported. During Deepavali, all the seven categories of crabs, including green, XL and XXL, were sold locally. But now, exports have picked up. As a result, even the locally consumed RB crab variety is also exported, leaving only the RS and local category for domestic consumption,” said C Saravana, a wholesale seafood trader.

Pointing out that the traders who are dependent on the business at local markets have only leftover catch for their business, he said there should be curbs on the export of marine products.

According to seafood traders at Kasimedu, the cost of farm grown prawns has also increased by 15 percent due to export demand, while the local customers are fuming over the steep and steady climb in price.

The recovery of export business has resulted in fluctuations in the price of popular fish varieties like seer fish, pomfret and yellow fin tuna. The price of river sand and tiger jumbo varieties was Rs 300 and Rs 600 per kg respectively, but are now being sold for about 20 per cent more, said Kasimedu seafood exporters.

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