Two days after the monsoon Trawl ban was lifted, the fisherfolk was quite apprehensive as the boats did not come with a promising catch. Almost a month now, they are now a worried lot as the catch is not fetching the minimum price even to meet the expenses. Many a time, the boat owners are forced to either empty all the fish in the waters or to give them for a very low rate with the fish price dropping heavily.
The fisherfolk, who states that post trawling season usually used to fetch a good price in the last years, said that the curbs imposed on the processing units, reduction in the number of export agencies among other issues.
Talking to www.kadapuram.com, All Kerala Boat Owners Welfare Association state committee member Skanda Das said that the fishermen across the state was struggling to meet the expenses. “We used to get good price for the catch earlier. The situation is not that good this year. One of the main reasons for the drastic price drop is that fish processing units and other fish factories have cut short their buying capacity. This is because hefty GST has been imposed on these factories, which has led many to be closed down or slowing down their production,” he said.
Noting that these processing units and factories used to buy large quantities of fish catch, which had an impact on the price, he said that tons of fish have been emptied into the waters as there were no buyers. “The fishes that used to fetch Rs 2500 to Rs 3000 a basket is now sold for just Rs 500 or Rs 750. With the price coming down heavily, nothing is got for our hard work. We cannot meet labour charges, fuel expenses and also other expenses. We are forced to go home empty handed,” he said.
Skanda Das opined that the fish price would again become steady if the government relaxed the norms with respect to the fish processing units and other factories. Moreover, he opined that export was also showing a slow growth.
Stressing that all the people involved in the fish industry were going through a tough time, All Kerala Fishing Boat Owners Association general secretary Joseph Xavier said that the boat owners and the fisherfolk would be thrown into more debt if the situation persists. “We have been demanding the government for taking strong steps with respect to fixing of fish price. We have been demanding to display the daily price of fish at all fish landing centres and harbours. Once this is done, the manipulation of middlemen could be avoided and one can expect to get a good price,” he said.
Moreover, he also said that the number of exporting agencies has come down. This has also lowered the buying capacity, he added. Xavier also pointed out that people were a bit afraid to buy fish because of wide spread reports of contamination. The government should take the responsibility of testing the fish at the fish landing centres and harbours so that the people will come forward to buy them without any fear.