Over 7,000 fishermen from Andhra Pradesh stranded in Gujarat harbour

The fishermen are stuck  in their boats after  deep sea fishing.

The fishermen are stuck in their boats after deep sea fishing.

The countrywide lockdown forced by the COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of migrant fishermen from Andhra Pradesh stranded at the Veraval fishing harbour in Gujarat, one of the country’s largest.

“More than 7000 fishermen, mostly migrant labourers from Andhra Pradesh and a few hundred from villages in Saurashtra region are stranded at Veraval due to the lockdown,” Ritesh Fofandi, a community leader and owner of Samudra Sea Foods company, told The Hindu from Veraval.

They are stuck in their boats that have been anchored at the harbour after they returned from deep sea fishing expeditions.

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According to Mr. Fofandi, there are around 4500 fishing boats or trawlers at Veraval harbour on the Saurashtra coast. “Boat owners have made arrangements for their food, but the problem is that all of them have to live on the boats as there are no other arrangements to shelter thousands of people,” he said.

Around 10-12 workers live in a mid sized trawler, where social distancing is impossible to maintain. They do practically everything, from cooking and eating to bathing and sleeping, on the boat.

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He said that these workers can only go home after train services resume. There is no other means of transportation as their villages are over 2000 km away. When the government imposed the lockdown to contain the spread of Coronavirus epidemic , most of these workers would have been in mid seas. When they returned to the harbour, everything was shut.

“No fishing trips because of lockdown, as fish processing has stopped. Transportation has been affected, no ice is being produced to store the fish stock... the entire supply chain has been derailed,” a leading marine food exporter from Overalluntry told The Hindu .

Normally, migrant fishermen return to their native places from May onwards and come back in August for the next fishing cycle. Fishing activities are not allowed during the monsoon.

Gujarat, as the country’s largest seafood producer, draws thousands of migrants, called “Madrasis” locally, from Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam to work on mechanised fishing trawlers from August to April every year.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 6:21:58 pm |