R. Jagadeeswara Rao
‘Many boat owners are making losses due to dwindling catch and increasing costs’
No dearth of demand for fish, especially for the varieties of prawn and tuna
Minimum support price for fish on the lines of MSP for paddy and wheat demanded
VISAKHAPATNAM: Gloom and despair have been looming large over the fishing activity at the fishing harbour area in the city because of dwindling catch of fish and increasing costs for the catch. Of late the fishing activity had become a loosing proposition and according to vice president of Visakha Dolphin Boat Operators Welfare Association, D. Ganga Raju, of the total 400 boats at the fishing harbour, about 200 had been going for fishing and of them a mere 20 boats would come back with a catch that would be profitable.
The remaining have been incurring oil losses. This sorry state of affairs was the result of climatic changes which had resulted in the fish catch getting reduced. Because of this shortage, the price of white pomfret fish (sanduva in Telugu) had shot up from Rs.250 a kg to Rs.450.
In fact there was no dearth of demand for the fish, especially for the varieties of prawn and tuna, but the catch had not been adequate to meet the demand.
Then there was the marketing problem. Fish is a perishable commodity and, according to Mr. Ganga Raju, exporters decide the price which is not to the advantage of boat owners.
For each trip into the sea which would last about a fortnight, the expenditure would be about Rs.1.50 lakh and the owners would reach the break even if the catch is about three tonnes.
But now the catch for most of the owners is less than 1.50 tonnes. This was the result of cyclones, he said, hoping that it was a temporary phase and better days are ahead.
Demanding a separate Ministry for Fishing, Mr. Ganaga Raju also wanted minimum support price for fish on the lines of MSP for paddy and wheat.
He said that there were no processing and cold storage facilities at the fishing harbour and this had put boat owners at a disadvantage.
He also referred to the subsidy on diesel given by the Government to boat owners and pointed out that funds for this had not been released regularly, resulting in hardship to boat owners.
For each trip, boat owners required 4,500 litres of diesel and the Government supply 3,000 litres of diesel on subsidy.
There would be sixty mandatory holidays of fishing every year during which fishermen are to be given 20 kg of rice by the authorities. But the same was not given, Mr. Ganga Raju alleged.
As many as 15,000 fishermen depend on the activities at the fishing harbour where sanitation had left a lot to be desired.