A steady increase in diesel prices and poor fish landings have pushed up the prices of fish varieties in the city. “We need large quantities of diesel and get limited subsidies; this has lead to this increase,” said T. Arumugam, a fisherman.
There has been an increase of Rs. 100/kg in all prime varieties including seer, pomfret and koduva (betty) and Rs. 50/kg in small varieties such as sankara, nethili, mackerel (aila) and sheela. However, fishermen claim that they are not getting any benefit out of it. “We ask wholesalers for an increase in rates. But, the increase we get is minimal,” said T. Joseph, a fisherman.
Many householders have switched to buying smaller fish that cost less or have completely stopped buying fish and have opted for chicken.
H. Krishnan of Ambattur said he preferred chicken as he could buy two kilos of it for the same price as half a kilo of fish.
Those eating outside too have to shell out more. Vallimayil Palanichamy, who runs a women’s hostel at Adambakkam, said she had to increase the rent by Rs. 500 from this month as the rates of commodities had gone up quite high. “I provide fish and chicken to the inmates. Now, with the increase in prices, I had to increase the rent . Thankfully, the hostellers did not mind too much,” she said.
According to fishermen, though sankara from the western coast is available at lesser prices, consumers prefer the fish caught on the eastern coast as it tastes better.
“In the last 15 days, we have been getting only cultured prawns and that too, at quite high rates. The availability of backwater prawns in the local market has dwindled as whatever is available is being exported, said Mr. Joseph.
“Landings of fish have definitely come down in last one month and when compared to the last decade, it has considerably come down now, explained a former official of the Fisheries Department.