A day in the life of a TN fisherman

In 2014-2015, fish production in the state was 4,57,454 tonnes, valued at Rs 7,89,792 lakh
A day in the life of a TN fisherman
Fishermen with their catch.

Chennai

Fishermen always leave for work early in the morning before sunrise as they plan to reach the fishing ground in time to ensure sustained fishing for as long as possible.
A normal boat carries a crew of five, but when fishermen plan to use the banned pair seine and purse seine fishing nets, which haul in a huge catch, the crew size goes up to 20 men.
The boat moves to the planned fishing ground, where the nets are cast and the boat rides the waves, till the net is hauled in after some time. The fish are separated and the net is cast again. A one-day trip to the sea results in the crew having a brunch with one person being the cook while the helmsman – called the driver in local lingo – ensures that the boat does not drift unnecessarily.
The caught fish, once removed from the net, are packed in ice in plastic trays (called tubs) and set aside. Fishermen rarely bathe – though surrounded by water – and use a separate section of the boat to answer the call of nature. The crew have practically no rest as they fish throughout the day and night and eat at the most two meals before returning at about the same time, on the morning of the next day. Fishing boats follow different fishing patterns, based on their location.
While Rameswaram fishermen start early in the morning and return the next day, those in Thoothukudi and Kanniyakumari districts spend nearly a week at sea. Therefore, the provisions they carry also differ. The staples are vegetables, milk powder, rice and a kerosene stove and ice. An overnight fishing trip uses up nearly five ice bars, each weighing 75 kilos, while larger boats use up to 15 bars.
The Trade:
When the catch reaches the shore, brokers – appointed by fishermen for this job – fix the price for the catch per kilo, based on the expenditure incurred for the trip and on the species of fish caught. Species like Seer, crabs and prawns (specially tiger prawns) fetch high prices. The auctioned fish are then transported by wholesalers to retail fish markets from where it reaches the consumer
A good day’s catch by a five- man crew can easily net up to 100 kilos, earning them up to Rs.15,000 of which the driver gets Rs.1,200 and the crew get around Rs.800, with the rest going to the boat owner who takes care of the boat’s fuel and expenditure
In places like Kasimedu (Chennai) the crew go on a share basis, with 50 per cent being for the boat (the boat owner) and the rest being divided among the crew. However, there is no uniform system as each place (Rameswaram, Chennai, Cuddalore, Muttom etc) all follow different practices.
Government facilities for TN fishermen
  • Free housing scheme
  • National Fishermen Savings cum Relief Scheme
  • Fishermen Group Accident Insurance
  • Reimbursement of excise duty on diesel for mechanised boats
  • Infrastructure development
  • Motorisation of traditional craft
  • Registration/licensing of fishing craft
  • Creation of artificial reefs
  • Sea Ranching 
  • Chank fishery
  • Supply of Sea Safety equipment
  • Issue of identity cards
  • Relief to fishermen’s families during lean season
  • Sales tax exemption on diesel for fishing boats
  • TN savings cum relief scheme for fisherwomen
  • Increasing subsidy from 25 per cent to 50 per cent for tuna long-liners
Some of the famous fishing villages along TN's coastline   
Chennai: Kasimedu, Dooming Kuppam & Nochi Kuppam
Cuddalore: Cuddalore fishing harbour
Nagapattinam: Nagapattinam fishing harbour
Thanjavur: Sethubava Chatram, Adiramapattinam
Pudukkottai: Jagadapattinam, Manmelkudi
Ramanathapuram: Rameswaram and Mandapam.
Thoothukudi: Thoothukudi fishing harbour, Bharathinagar
Kanyakumari: Colachel and Chinna Muttom

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