Fisherfolk to get separate landing point at Karanja jetty

To help fishermen maintain social distancing norms, a new landing point will be set up to unload the day’s catch of fish. File Photo  

The State Fisheries Department is working to set up a separate landing point at the busy Karanja jetty in Uran for unloading the day’s catch of fish, keeping in mind the social distancing norms that are to be mandatorily followed as per State guidelines.

The decision, officials said, was taken in the wake of crowding at the jetty a few days ago, giving rise to fears of infection.

The Maharashtra Fisheries Department, through a public notice released on March 26, declared fish as an essential commodity to facilitate its supply and export, and ease the burden on fishermen. However, local fishermen have still been facing inconvenience due to the abruptness of the lockdown announced across the country.

To save fishermen from facing extreme losses, the Vasai Fishermen’s Cooperative Society offered to purchase their stock and created an hourly token system in their office building so that social distancing could be practised and fish could be sold to local consumers.

“The problem was of crowds. We had volunteers to ensure that a minimum distance was maintained and had given hourly time slots to facilitate the sale of the fish,” said Sanjay Koli, chairman of the society.

However, a bigger problem was observed at Karanja and Sassoon docks, where the fishermen complained of excess fish having to go to waste due to the lack of cold storage facilities, stoppage of auctioning in wholesale markets and absence of exporters willing to purchase stocks at the usual price.

Rajendra Jadhav, Joint Commissioner of Fisheries, Maharashtra said, four days ago, the massive crowds that gathered near the Karanja jetty for auctioning were deemed a hazard considering the spread of the coronavirus, because of which the gram panchayat and co-operative society together took a decision to shut down the wholesale market. “At Karanja, there was such a large crowd four days ago that a decision had to be taken to close the jetty where the fish were auctioned after being caught. We are now working to develop a separate spot for landing in Karanja, as well as storage, but this is still in process,” he said.

Amol Roge, chairman of the Martanda Prasanna Colaba Matsyodyog, a society working for welfare of fishermen in Colaba, said about 60% of his catch at Sassoon Dock will have to be disposed of, 10% was sold to local residents upon arrival of the boats while 25-30% was picked up by middlemen or suppliers.

“These middlemen who supply to the company did not inform us of the rates or weights of the stock. They said they will let us know as soon as they hear from the companies that they were buying for. It has been seven to eight days since they took our fish but I haven’t heard from them,” said Mr. Roge.

For every trip he makes, Mr. Roge has to spend around ₹3 lakh on diesel and wages of 16 to 17 crew members on each boat.

He said distribution of fish to local residents is becoming difficult as it leads to crowding, which in turn invites a police crackdown.

In Palghar district, trucks of exporter companies are being allowed to carry fish to Porbandar in Gujarat, where they can be preserved in cold storage for about two months. “However, this facility is not accessible for local fishermen from villages spread across the vast coastline of India,” said Ganesh Nakhawa, a fisherman from Karanja. Mr. Nakhawa said it is also easier for the ports in the North, which have better connectivity to Gujarat.

Asked whether measures such as construction of landing sites or provision of cold storage would be available for docks such as Sassoon, Mr. Jadhav said, “I don't have information from my staff, of crowds gathering or problems with sales there. Measures are only being taken at Karanja as of now.”

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 8:09:02 PM |

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