MADURAI: Seafood prices went up north after mechanised boats suspended their routine at sea following a strike by fishermen over revenue sharing- paying commission from netted fish off Thoothukudi coast.
Now, the standoff between fishermen and boat owners has almost been resolved after a weeklong strike following several rounds of talks with representatives of fishermen and boat owners associations.
However, the seafood prices keep soaring owing to paucity of fish caught by country boats fishermen. Unlike mechanised boats, country crafts could not engage in deep sea fishing to net sufficient amount of fish to meet market demands, D Johnson, fish vendor, Thoothukudi market, said on Sunday.
Unusually, the seafood market in Thoothukudi witnessed low turnout of consumers, who were taken aback by the skyrocketing price of fish items.
A kg of ‘seela,’ the highest priced seafood product was sold at Rs 1,200 now against its normal price ranging from Rs 800 depending on its fresh quality, size and weight. Other varieties of fishes such as ‘oola,’ ‘vila’ and ‘para’ fetched market price ranging from Rs 500 a kilo against its normal price of Rs 300. Moreover, sardine, which’s called ‘mathi’ or ‘chala,’ was priced at Rs 100 a kg against its normal market value as measured in pieces.
Normally, seafood consumers would buy six pieces of sardine at Rs 10. Usually, the fishermen of Punnaikayal, a coastal hamlet, would largely engage in fishing primarily for sardines. But, they did not fish over the last 13 days as the fisher folks attended en masse to celebrate the festival of St Antony’s Shrine at Puliampatti. He also added that not the entire fleet of 245 mechanised boats in Thoothukudi fishing harbour struck work, but, only about 80 to 85 boats ventured into sea and that too for three days a week, Johnson told DT Next on Sunday.
Relief to ice plant owners
S Santhanraj, an ice plant owner, Threspuram said the District Administration’s directive to resume mechanised boat fishing is some sort of relief for the ice plant owners, who stopped production for over a week due to a halt in fishing operations. However, the resumption is still not certain as many fishermen and boat owners are still in talks, he said.
G Arul, another ice plant owner, Thoothukudi, said business in 50 ice plants relying on mechanised boats suffered a huge loss.
Thoothukudi Collector K Senthil Raj called a peace committee meeting on Saturday evening and it yielded the desired results. He directed the fishermen and boat owners to resume fishing from Monday as an interim solution, said Joint Director of Fisheries, R Amal Xavier.
The Collector instructed to constitute a team comprising officials from fisheries, revenue and police to ascertain issues concerning commission sharing between fishermen and boat owners and submit a detailed report in a month. The team would make recommendations based on the report findings and it would be addressed to resolve amicably.
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