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Updated: July 3, 2012 09:44 IST

Fishermen strike work

Special Correspondent
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AGITATION: Mechanised boats anchored at Rameswaram on
Monday. Photo: L.Balachandar
The Hindu AGITATION: Mechanised boats anchored at Rameswaram on Monday. Photo: L.Balachandar

Fishermen leaders were sore at the manner in which prices of export varieties, especially of prawns, were pegged at very low levels by a ‘syndicate’ of exporters.

Fishermen of Rameswaram began an indefinite strike on Monday in protest against ‘syndication’ in export of marine products. The decision to go on strike was taken on Sunday after the fishermen returned to shore.

Fishermen leaders were sore at the manner in which prices of export varieties, especially of prawns, were pegged at very low levels by a ‘syndicate’ of exporters.

U. Arulanandam, founder of Alliance for the Release of Innocent Fishermen, said that the rate of one kg of export prawn hovered between Rs.350 and Rs.400 per kg in recent weeks.

In contrast, one kg of prawn sold at Rs.670 in the 1990s. When prices of all commodities, including diesel, went up, the price offered to fishermen for prawns climbed down, he said. Several fishermen associations had taken up this issue with officials and the Marine Products Export Development Authority but no solution had been so far, he said. This problem was consistent in the last two decades and the current strike was to attract government’s intervention in the issue.

N.J. Bose of All Fishermen’s Association said that about 800 boats did not venture into sea. There are about 1400 registered boats in Rameswaram, of which about 800 are operated regularly. The rates fixed by the export companies of Rameswaram were lower by up to Rs.150, when compared to other districts, he pointed out.

The fishermen, he claimed, were in the clutches of middlemen.

They were kept “in bondage” by the exporters. They were also not in a position to export marine products directly in the absence of cold storage facilities and funds. A meeting convened by Department of Revenue officials on Monday to resolve it remained inconclusive.

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