Kochi

Boat owners in Kochi demand govt. intervention to end alleged exploitation by agents

Fishers at the Kalamukku fishing harbour in Kochi get ready for fresh expeditions as the trawling ban comes to an end on the midnight of Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators’ Association has appealed to the State government to step in and prevent “exploitation” of fishers by fish buyers and agents, who were allegedly demanding up to 16% discount on the auction price of fish landings in harbours even as the annual trawling ban is set to end on the midnight of Saturday. The boat owners alleged that the agents had threatened not to buy the catch if the discount offered on auction price was not hiked to 16%.

Association president Peter Mathias and general secretary Joseph Xavier Kalapurackal said fish buying agents had demanded that the present “auction discount” of 13% be raised to 16%. The “auction discount” worked against the interest of the fishers, said the boat owners.

The practice is that if the catch in a fishing boat that lands at some of the harbours is auctioned for ₹100, a discount of ₹13 is offered to the wholesale agent. The fish buying agents are now demanding that it be raised to ₹16. The rate of discount varies from harbour to harbour.

However, V.A. Nazar of All Kerala Fish Merchants’ and Commission Agents’ Association said the market situation had changed drastically in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown and financial losses and that the demand for 16% discount was not a new one but one that existed earlier. Fish merchants and agents were in financial difficulty and the demand for the discount was justified, he claimed. He also said that the COVID-19 protocol had disrupted the normal auction process at fish landing centres and harbours.

Mr. Kalapurackal said buying agents had said that fish sales could be disrupted from August 1 if the enhanced discount was not implemented and the demand had been made on fish landing centres in Vypeen. He also alleged that fish buyers from outside were not being allowed to purchase from the landing centres and harbours.

The fishing boat operators’ demand is that the fishing community should be freed from the “exploitation of middlemen” so that the fishers get the true value for their labour. They pointed out that each fishing expedition had turned extremely costly with the price of diesel going up by about ₹28 per litre during the last one year. The traditional fishers are in no position to bear the fuel price hike.

Meanwhile, sources in the Thoppumpady fisheries harbour, one of the largest fish landing centres in the State, pointed out that no demand had been raised for auction discount hike by buyers in the harbour. There are around 200 trawl boats, 800 longliners and gillnet boats, and 65 purseine boats operating from Thoppumpady.


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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:18:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/boat-owners-in-kochi-demand-govt-intervention-to-end-alleged-exploitation-by-agents/article35660489.ece

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