Fish prices have increased by atleast 40 to 60 per cent in the local market due to a dip in arrival following the 45-day annual moratorium on fishing that began on April 14.

The wholesale and retail merchants operating from Ramanathapuram generally receive fish varieties from the mechanised, country and motorised boat fishermen of Rameswaram, Pamban, Mandapam, Periapattinam, Kilakarai. Due to the annual moratorium on fishing by mechanised boats, the supply from them has been totally stopped. However, the country boats and other small boats, which do not come under the purview of the ban, continue to supply fish to the markets in Ramanathapuram, Karaikudi, Paramakudi, Madurai, Tiruchi and other places in the State.

But the arrival to the markets has indicated that there is a mismatch between demand and supply.

According to the market sources, there is around 50 per cent dip in the arrival of fish to the markets at Velipattinam and Bharathi Nagar here, which cater to the need of majority of customers in and around Ramanathapuaram town. It has forced the customers to pay heavy price for the fish varieties. The price of ‘seela' fish, which is the most sought-after species among the customers, has gone up to Rs.350 to 400 per kg as against the average of Rs.250 to 275 per kilo. Similarly, the cost of ‘vila' fish, another common species, increased to Rs.150 from Rs.80 to100. The prices of ‘oola,' ‘kanava,' ‘nagara,' ‘sooda' and others have also witnessed at least 50 per cent increase than the normal price.

A fish trader at Bharathi Nagar said the prices had been fixed only based on the arrival. If the traders received huge quantity of fish varieties than the average sale, the prices would come down as they had to dispose them daily. The markets had been getting just around 50 per cent of the requirement. They were forced to increase the rate as the suppliers also hiked the costs substantially.

There are reports that the country boat fishermen have been getting good catch for the last one month apparently due to the operation of less number of boats. K. Anthoniraj of Rameswaram, a mechanised boat fisherman, who has been venturing into the sea by a country boat temporarily, said though there were a few disappointing days, the fishermen had been netting fish to the level of satisfaction. Still, they could not meet the demand.

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