Crowds surged in hoping to buy fresh sea fish but many were disappointed with the offering

The promise of fresh sea fish drew thousands to the Kasimedu fishing harbour on the first Sunday after the lifting of the fishing ban on Wednesday. The quantity of the catch so far has not been the most satisfying but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of those who flocked to the fish landing area.

Buyers like G. Murugan of Pattalam were trying their best to beat down the prices. “You get fish for cheaper rates at even the local market in Pattalam,” he exclaimed only to be told that those were fish from other cities and not as fresh as the catch at Kasimedu.

G. Bhanumathi, a fish vendor, who had come to replenish her stock, decided to go back without buying any. “Fish that is usually sold at Rs. 500 was sold for Rs. 1500, which was too steep for me. Also, varieties such as sankara, nethili and vella thumbuli were too tiny and none of my customers will buy them,” she said.

Kaarai, which is normally sent to Kerala, was sold in local markets, that too for Rs.20 – 25 a kg as the size of the fish was small. Similarly, kadaman that is exported was available in the market.

“We didn’t get any big fish. We were able to land only small ones. I sold fish including sankara, oola, kaarala and kadaman in 20 kg baskets,” said K. Kuppan, a boat owner, whose crew cut short its trip after a turbo hose broke. “The boat had been idling for 45 days. So, such kinds of damage are likely but the repairs have been done. The men will set sail by Sunday night,” he added.

M.E. Raghupathy, president, Chennai Mechanised Boat Fishermen Welfare Association, said it would take a few more days for the catch to increase and prices to decrease. “The first two or three days do not yield much. The fish are on the surface and the trawlers are not able to net a lot,” he added.

Many of the larger deep sea trawlers have not returned home accentuating the shortage. Most fishing is done on the basis of fishermen’s previous experience rather than on information from the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) that provides potential fishing zone advisories. “Data from INCOIS is good for fish up to 50 ft in depth and for migratory fish. It will not be useful for those with trawlers. Many fishermen used global positioning system coordinates to identify the places where they had a good catch last year and are heading there,” said M.D. Dayalan, Indhiya Meenavar Sangam.

Sources said that strong winds off Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coast were also whipping up waves. “The sea is choppy and so the nets do not stay on the floor of the sea. The wind speed touches 45- 55km/hr making things more difficult. A few more days of wait will do us good,” said D. Arivalagan, a fisherman of Kasimedu.

Fisheries Department sources said that buyers will have to wait till at least Wednesday for prices to climb down.

“Fishermen from Rameshwaram area said that they have had a good catch of shrimps and prawns and also of export varieties. But for the catch to increase it would take a few more days,” said a source.

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