All hopes now pinned on a good monsoon

With their hopes dashed after the first voyage, fishermen are now pinning their hopes on monsoon rainfall to get a good catch.

The first voyage, which some of the mechanised boats completed in past two to three days, has remained most disappointing barring a few who could get just enough to meet their operational cost.

The annual 47-day conservation period, also called annual ban, aimed at allowing different types of fish to breed ended on May 31.

Compared to last year, the catch this time further fell for want of pre-monsoon rain. Of 600 mechanised boats operated from here, about 100 or so have returned on completion of their first voyage. Most of them had to cut short their voyage due to problem with the ice, thanks to long hours of power cut. Ice strength, fishermen say will not be good if the unit producing it is hit frequently by power cuts. Another problem they are confronted with is with regard to availability of sufficient stock of ice. This is again as a result of power holiday declared on ice units.

A mechanised boat operator, who generally spends around Rs.1.5 lakh to Rs.1.75 lakh per voyage on fuel, provisions and crew for a voyage of 12-15 days, is not even getting a catch worth the operational cost.

“The situation is very bad. We don't know anything except fishing and we are getting only miscellaneous fish such as ‘jella', ‘gulivindalu', ‘budasulu' and ‘kanakartulu,' points out P.C. Appa Rao, president of AP Mechanised Boat Operators' Association.

He said the government in the larger interest of fishing community should extend the duration of conservation period from 47 to 60 days and exempt ice factories from power cuts.

Fishermen also demand succour to the crew members and all those who depend on fishing in the fishing harbour as part of indirect employment on the lines of rice and provisions offered by Puducherry Government.

“We are neither getting brown shrimp nor tiger prawn.

Even pomfret and vanjaram are not available in good number. Miscellaneous catch is not fetching us much, which is consumed only in local market,” said Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy, president, Dolphin Boat Operators' Welfare Association.