First voyage after the end of conservation period brings no cheer

Fishermen appear to be in troubled waters with the first voyage after the end of 47-day annual conservation period failing to evoke an encouraging response.

After they resumed fishing on June 1, about 100 mechanised boats returned during past two days. The catch they got has fallen much below their expectation “We went with a lot of hopes but I could able to get a catch from my boat's five-day voyage just to meet oil expenses worth Rs.30,000,” points out P.C. Appa Rao, president, AP Mechanised Boat Operators' Welfare Association.

Fishermen from Visakhapatnam mostly prefer to undertake fishing near Kaviti, Kalingapatnam, Bhavanapadu and Gopalpur. At Gopalpur, they face regular harassment from their counterparts in Orissa for straying into their area.

Mr. Appa Rao told The Hindu on Monday that the reason for depleting catch was due to deficient pre-monsoon rain. In fact, the catch they got last year during the current period was quite encouraging. In the event of fairly good amount of rain, the fish numbers multiply fast at the confluence of the rivers and the sea.

Sources said the government owed Rs.18 crore as of now towards subsidy arrears. Though the government is supposed to reimburse Rs.8 crore per year towards the subsidy amount, the allocation in the budget is only Rs.2 crore.

Fishermen say the abnormal delay in release of subsidy amount is forcing them to borrow loans from money-lenders at hefty interest. There are about 600 mechanised boats being operated from Visakhapatnam. On an average, during the annual conservation period, each boat owner incurred an expenditure of nearly Rs.2 lakhs towards overhauling their vessels.

Sources in the trawling industry say the catch they were getting after sailing into the mid sea is not encouraging.

They incur an operational cost of Rs.10 lakhs during the first voyage after the conservation period. Reports reaching here say they are able to catch only 250 to 300 kg of shrimp and other high-value catch per day.

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