Animal Husbandry

Fishermen Stuck between New Fishing Season & Government Ban on Export

Garsha Sai Nitesh
Garsha Sai Nitesh

Amid COVID-19 exports around the world are on halt expect some essential and manufacturing products. Pandemic has hit many sectors in the last two months of the lockdown in India. Fishery Industry is one among them. Fish exports are on pause as government is yet to come out with a new export plan.

The Central government gave nod for fishermen to start catching on June 1, but have decided to extend the ban of exports till June 15.

Fishermen in Tamil Nadu have permits to go for fishing but with no clear idea about where to store the fish. As exports are on pause, many are confused to go into the sea or wait further. Fishermen of Thoothukudi district are the only one to venture into the sea during the lockdown.

Though the fish catch is good this year selling them at good prices like before has become hard. “Fish which was sold for Rs 350 per KG is now being sold a rate of Rs 150 per KG. We buy fish at higher rates from the harbour and selling at a lower price,” said laments Anto, a fish exporter to The News Minute.

During this time of the year fishing season starts in South India. Fishermen from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu venture into the sea and sell their catch to foreign buyers at good rates. However, the lockdown left them with no clarity about when to start the catch. “Maybe ports in the country open around August, the monsoon will set across Tamil Nadu, washing away our business,” he added.

Before, exporters use to transport the fish as soon as the fishermen brought the catch to them. Now the pandemic slowed this process forcing exporter to store the fish. Many exporters work at a small level and cannot afford insulator fridge to store the fish.

“We just use open ice boxes to transport fish and don’t have the capacity to buy an insulator fridge for Rs 5 Lakh. As the lockdown implemented immediate transport of catch has become difficult,” he said.

Fishermen decided to go into the sea from June 15, as the export ban will lift on this date. Due to the lockdown finding labourers to accompany on the trip to catch has become difficult.

Lockdown also created a problem in getting their boats repaired and mend the nets for fishing. Dry ice is not easily available in the market at present like before this is can be a challenge to store the catch. Along with the export ban, these situations forced them to stop going into the sea till 15.

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