The southwest monsoon set in on time or a bit early in June, but delayed showers and prevailing dry spell with heat conditions impacted fish catch during the two voyages since fishing ban was lifted on June 1.

Half of the mechanised boats from among the 99 registered at Machilipatnam Harbour did not venture into the Bay of Bengal for fishing, expecting loss due to poor catch. Bountiful catch of Tiger Prawn and tuna fish is normally witnessed soon after the fishing ban. However, that happens only where there are repeated spells of showers in southwest monsoon.

“The delayed showers for two weeks this year have dampened our hopes on good fishing season,” said K. Venkateswara Rao belonging to Gilakaladindi village in Krishna district. He and his team of 10 local fishermen had ventured twice into the sea, but incurred heavy loss.

Gillnet facility

“Despite having the Gillnet facility, which is used to catch prawn, barely four quintals of prawn was caught against a normal three times that. Catch includes one quintal of Tiger Prawn during the one-week fishing. The prawn catch is very small compared to last year,” he added. The exporters at Machilipatnam harbour offer Rs.750 to Rs.830 for one kg of Tiger Prawn. Venturing up to 100 nautical miles, boat operators found that the catch and population of the Tiger Prawn has been dwindling every year.

According to Marine Products Exports Development Authorities, most of the boats operating from Krishna district had been equipped with both Gill and Trawl nets to tap the market for prawn and tuna species – Skip Jack and Yellow Fin.

Most of the boat operators had to adjust with the reduced catch of six quintals of all species in their second trip. Boat operators said, “Hardly six quintals of fish, including prawn, would fetch around Rs.1.2 lakh at the existing price offered at the harbour, but the expenditure including non-subsidised diesel on a single trip of one-week fishing is above Rs.1 lakh.