Rameswaram fishermen ended the first day of fishing after the 45-day ban period on a happy note with a good catch of prawns. With the Sri Lankan Navy keeping away, the fishermen had a trouble-free day in Palk Bay.
The fishermen, who were worried about the presence of the Sri Lankan Navy near the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL), heaved a sigh of relief as they sighted no vessels.
Sources in the Fisheries Department said the 3,800 fishermen, who had ventured into the sea on Saturday morning in 765 trawlers, returned safely on Sunday morning.
Owing to strong wind, the sea was slightly rough, making pulling of nets a difficult task, but at the end of the day, the fishermen had a good catch of prawns, cuttlefish, crabs and all varieties of small fishes, said P. Sesu Raja, district secretary, Tamil Nadu Coastal Mechanised Boat Fishermen Association.
Interaction with a cross section of fishermen by The Hindu revealed that the average catch of prawns ranged from 150 kg to 200 kg per boat. As they used a bottom trawler net, they were also able to catch a good amount of cuttlefish and crabs. The price of full grown prawns was also better compared to last season though it could fetch more, they said.P. Sasi (35), owner-cum-driver of a trawler, said while most of the smaller boats stayed in the Indian waters, some of the big boats strayed a few kilometres beyond the IMBL, due to the absence of the Sri Lankan Navy. “We sailed up to 16 nautical miles (4 kms) beyond IMBL,” he said.
He had spent about Rs. 55,000 for the day’s fishing, with a major chunk going for buying diesel worth Rs 30,000, and Rs 23,000 towards wages for the crew. However, he got a catch worth about Rs 90,000, he said. “I am happy with the catch,” he said adding he had refurbished his trawler with Rs 1.5 lakh and was confident of breaking even in a month.
K. Selvam (36), a trawler driver, who has been fishing since the age of 10, said he stayed in the Indian waters. There was no need to cross the IMBL as the catch was good in Indian waters, he said.
J. Irudhayaraj (42), a owner-cum-crew member, was also a happy man on Sunday. “There was a lot of apprehension till we reached Katchatheevu and we heaved a sigh of relief only when we found no presence of the Sri Lankan Navy,” he said.
On Saturday night, the Sri Lankan navy personnel had flashed focus lights from Thalaimannar jetty, signalling them not to come too close, but otherwise, they faced no problems, he said.
He sold his catch for Rs 70,000, making an earning of Rs 20,000. K. Ponraj (45), a trawler driver, said he sailed up to 14 nautical miles, crossing the IMBL and had no problem with the Lankan Navy.