For 55-year-old Korthilamma, a fish vendor, an early evening trip every day from her house at Colachel to the Vizhinjam Fish Harbour is necessary for the next two months to earn a living.
“The heavy monsoon has made it impossible for our people to venture out into the sea in our region and hence we have to come all the way here to the harbour to purchase fish,” says Korthilamma. Rightly so, the harbour-cum-market was unusually crowded on Thursday evening. Fish vendors from Colachel to Anchuthengu are now frequenting the harbour to purchase fish for sale.
“This side of the harbour is safe from monsoon fury and fishermen always get a good catch in this area. Hence, people from the nearby areas also come here,” says Paniyadi Ramesh, a fisherman from Vizhinjam.
Since the trawling ban starts on Friday night, these people will have to depend on local sources to get their daily fish for sale.
The 47-day trawling ban does not affect the traditional fishermen. “Most of the people here own traditional boats and at this time, these fishermen are the only people who can provide fish for such vendors,” he says.
Though it is not a profitable business, many vendors from other areas are forced to make this daily trip as the local fisherwomen do not allow them to sell their fish at the market.
“Even if we stay here and try to sell them, it ends up in a quarrel. Why should I take all this trouble? So, even if it is late evening, I travel to the city and sell them. I often return back late at night,” says Soumya, who lives in Poovar.
This seasonal shifting of fishermen and fish vendors to the harbour, however, has been beneficial to the local panwalas at the harbour, for whom the three monsoon months are the most profitable season.
“They [fisherfolk] cannot live without the dose [betel with tobacco] and since people from many regions are coming here, this is the best season for us,” says 47-year-old Mary, who has put up a small shop close to the market.