Govind D. Belgaumkar
Owing to rough sea for almost a week now, fishing has been stopped
It takes three to five hours to haul up one boat
Two-months lay off is allowed every year as it is breeding time for fishes
MANGALORE: As one enters the shore of the vast Sulthan Batheri estuary, where the Gurpur River joins the sea, a group of young men, led by professionals who haul up the boats to the shore, can be seen briskly turning the drawer, a manual rotary, that pulls the heavy boat away from the water, centimetre by centimetre.
The professionals, who haul up to five to 10 fishing vessels to the shore a day, are known as “kacheris” here. Hauling up a boat, which requires three to five hours of labour, costs its owner from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,500, depending on the size of the vessel.
There are at least eight kacheris on the Sulthan Batheri shore, according to Imran of Bengre, who has been in this profession for the last six years. Katcheris help repairing boats when they are not hauling up the boats.
For the uninitiated, it is quite an experience to watch a boat being hauled up to the shore. With the 57-day fishing holiday, from June 15 to August 10, observed every year as the period is considered to be the breeding time for fishes, round the corner, and the sea being turbulent, the owners of fishing trawlers are not keen to let fishermen venture into the sea. On Tuesday afternoon, Shashidhar Boloor, owner of two boats, was supervising the hauling up of his second vessel. “We still have a few more days of fishing left. But the sea is rough, we cannot take the risk now,” he said. According to him, the fishing season was brighter during the end-period. But fishermen could not venture into the sea for the last one week or so. They could hardly consider fishing now even if the sea was calm because they would be required to return within four or five days. Deep sea fishing is considered unprofitable unless the fishermen have nine to 12 days at their disposal. Mr. Boloor’s statement that the season was good in the end comes as a surprise because fishermen and their associations had been complaining that the season had been worse than last year.
Mr. Boloor said each venture into the sea had yielded fish worth Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh in the last few times. “Ups and downs are common, every year,” he added. However, the Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee maintains that the fishing season was poor. Its genral secreary Vasudev Boloor said the catch had improved only in the deep sea during the last couple of ventures for trawl boats.
For those who fished in the shores, it was not that productive. Fish landing was decreasing year after year he said and blamed it on the pollution and deep sea fishing by foreign vessels.
As the fishes breed, the two months’ holiday is used by the boat owners to get the engines overhauled so that they are ready for the next season.