Fishermen upbeat after first voyage catch

Huge volume of brown shrimp captured post-ban period

June 28, 2017 12:50 am | Updated 12:50 am IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Bountiful:  Fish captured being loaded on to a push-cart in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

Bountiful: Fish captured being loaded on to a push-cart in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

The first voyage catch post the 62-day ban period has pepped up the spirit of the fishermen in Visakhapatnam and its neighbourhood — a major fish landing centre with an export turnover of ₹7,500 crore.

Many who went for fishing on a short voyage of five to 10 days had returned with a bumper catch of brown shrimp. Some could trap pomfret, ‘gulivendula’, ribbon fish and ‘senku.’

Among the 700 mechanised boats and 250 beach landing crafts, 70% ventured into the sea from here towards Bhavanapadu and Gopalpur.

Showers help

While those on a short voyage have anchored their boats at the fishing harbour here, others are expected to return in the next three to four days.

Pre-monsoon showers have also helped in breeding of various types during the ban period, which commenced on April 15 as part of a conservation effort in the entire coast to stop juvenile fishing.

“The initial response to the first voyage is quite encouraging as many have captured bountiful of brown prawn. We hope the trend will continue in the coming days with forecast of good monsoon,” Assistant Director of Fisheries T. Sumalatha told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Vannamei fallout

However, fishermen are feeling the adverse impact of the demand for exotic vannamei (white-leg shrimp), which is grown in large quantity by the aquaculture firms in the coastal Andhra due to its heavy demand in the overseas market for low cost and high culinary value. Most of the export firms at the fishing harbour have stopped buying prawns captured from the sea forcing the fishermen to sell high-quality prawns in the domestic market at a lower price.

Price range

The present rate being offered at the landing point is ₹250 per kg for brown prawn, ₹600 for tiger with head and ₹350 for white prawn (headless).

“Though we are not sure of sustaining the trend of capturing brown prawn in large quantity, the disinclination of exporters to buy shrimp caught by us is a dampening factor,” said Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy.

Operational cost

Some of the boat operators say the high operational cost is making fishing totally unviable.

“We are spending almost ₹1.5 lakh for a 10-day voyage and half of it is going towards diesel. Now the government wants to impose high rate of GST on nets, ropes and other accessories, which will be like rubbing salt into our wounds,” pointed out AP Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association president P.Ch. Appa Rao.

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