The vessels hauled in substantial catch of threadfin breams and cuttlefish, both commercially important species.

Around 60 trawlers that arrived at fishing harbours near Kochi on Thursday have brought good tidings. The 47-day fishing ban was lifted at midnight on Wednesday.

The vessels hauled in substantial catch of threadfin breams and cuttlefish, both commercially important species.

Small trawlers, between 15 and 18 metres, that arrived at Vypeen, Munambam and Thoppumpady harbours reported catches worth between Rs.1 lakh and Rs.2.5 lakh, said Joseph Xavier Kalappurakkal of Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association.

Gillnetter Agnel, docking late in the afternoon, is reported to have had a catch worth a little less than Rs. 2 lakh. “The first of the fish landings after the trawling ban fetches good prices because of the scarcity during the preceding days”, said an auctioneer.

A trade agent at the harbour, however, said five vessels had docked at the harbour on Thursday but most of the catches would be auctioned only early morning on Friday. But the prices were likely to be firm because of the heavy demand now, he said. Mr. Kalappurakkal said only small trawlers had arrived on Thursday because the larger vessels would remain in operation for a longer period to maximise the landings.

He said prices were firm on Thursday, cuttle fish selling for Rs.190 a kg and threadfin breams for Rs.50 a kg. However, there is some uncertainty for the coming days as more trawlers land their catches. Brokers and middlemen try to push down prices because the number of processors sourcing fish from the auction centres is not enough to hold up the prices.

Coordinator of the Munambam Fishing Harbour A. R. Suthan said 12 trawlers had docked on Thursday and had reported catches varying between Rs. 1.5 lakh and Rs. 1.75 lakh. These are good indications for the ensuing fishing season, he said.

Mr. Suthan said the trawlers had arrived much earlier than expected after they set out at midnight on Wednesday. This implied that the catch was plentiful and pointed out that fishing harbours like Neendakara in Kollam had seen trawlers arriving as early as 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Around 400 trawlers operate out of Munambam and more vessels are expected late in the evening. There are also 100 seasonal fishing vessels and around 150 outboard engines operating from the fishing harbour, operated by the Munambam Fishing Harbour Society. The most evident impact of the end of the trawling ban has been cooling in fish prices.

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