The 47-day trawl ban that took effect on the midnight of June 14 and rough sea that has restricted fishing activities have pushed up fish prices, which were already high under a spell of shortage in landings in the pre-trawl ban period.

The trawl ban keeps roughly 3,500 vessels off the waters, naturally bringing down the quantum of fish landings. And, rough sea conditions have kept even the traditional boats away, further squeezing fish availability.

Visible impact

The most visible impact is on the most common and sought-after sardines, the price of which has more than doubled over a year’s time. Sardine price stood between Rs.150 and Rs.170 a kg on Saturday in the retail market, up from the Rs.60 to Rs.70 a kg range during the same period last year.

Sardine landings in the country stood at six lakh tonnes during the last calendar year, bulk of which was accounted for centres in Kerala.

Poor rainfall

This fishing season, however, looks weaker considering the poor rains, which may not help cool the coastal waters immediately. Cooler waters draw sardines closer to the shores, allowing traditional boats to catch them in large quantities.

Matsyafed sources said sardine and mackerel prices showed the true market condition.

Big mackerels were selling between Rs.200 and Rs.220 a kg in the retail market on Saturday.

Fish varieties

The arrival of fish from Tamil Nadu and cultured fish varieties such as katla, rohu, mrigal and cat fishes have kept the prices under check but the demand for marine fishes in Ernakulam and the surrounding areas is likely to keep the market heated, sources added.

They said though imported pearlspot (karimeen) has found some favour with local buyers, varieties like tilapia are yet to catch up.

Meanwhile, price of whole seer fish (neimeen) has gone up to more than Rs. 800 a kg in the retail market on Saturday, up from the pre-trawl ban range of 550-600 a kg.

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