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Constant hunt for new fishing grounds

Local fishermen, having to hunt for new fishing grounds, land in trouble with fishermen already working there.

Constant hunt for new fishing grounds
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All in a day?s work: a variety of fishes

Chennai

“A problem which has not received much attention is Kasimedu, fishermen who fish off the Andhra Pradesh coast, having their boats seized by local fishers, who then demand nearly Rs 50,000 per boat for their release,” says former MLA and president of the Tamil Nadu Mechanised Vessel Fishermen’s Association, S Venugopal. “Some time ago, we paid this amount for 43 boats each, as none of the sustained pleading with AP officials helped. They supported their fishermen and told us in no uncertain terms not to come to their area to fish,” he added. “Even our state fisheries department officials who intervened, were unable to help” he averred. 

According to C R Senthil, wTamil Nadu Fishermen Federation, “All fishermen-related issues will come to an end, if the state government constitutes an expert committee of all stakeholders including fishermen, consumers and related industries, to seek a solution to all related issues.” 

Besides going through issues pertaining to maritime boundary lines, the profit margin accruing out of the catch, of late, is said to be meagre. The fishermen lament that a 12-day trip off Chennai’s Kasimedu coast with a crew of seven to ten, costs Rs 1 lakh. They say they will be able to sail only twice or thrice a month, running up expenses of Rs.3 lakh, which can be met only if there is a good catch. 

S Anbu, wholesaler in Chintadripet market said fish prices depend on availability and size. Arrivals now include seer fish, sankara , pomfret, shark, vavval, korkai and nethili. Due to local demand, seer is not exported and costs around Rs 700 a kg. Bose said seer fish is considered tasty only if it weighs more than a kilogram, as lesser weight reduces both price and taste. 

A way out, according to Bose, is for the government to purchase the catch by paying extra to fishermen for every kilo. With the NIFPHATT popularising fish as a protein- rich product, “The state government could also do the same, which in addition to ensuring a balanced diet for locals, would also provide fishermen a better livelihood,” Bose added. 

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