Tamil Nadu

Fisheries sector needs improvement

A view of the Kasimedu Fishing Harbour wore a deserted look on beginning day of Nation-wide Janata Curfew as a precautionary measure to control the spread of (COVID-19) coronavirus outbreak on March 22, 2020   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

With fish landings remaining flat for several years in a row, experts in the fisheries sector say the focus should now be on quality and value addition so that the men who toil in the seas off the Tamil Nadu coast will get a better income.

“Over the past five years, fish production has not increased much, hovering around 6.9 lakh tonnes per year, and marine fishermen are spending more on getting bigger boats, nets and equipment. They are forced to get engines with a higher horsepower that can drag the nets at the bottom of the sea,” said an expert, who did not want to be named.

Fishermen, especially those operating out of the Kasimedu fishing harbour in Chennai, have been urging the government to establish a fish park near the harbour so that fish being landed here could be processed for export markets. Recently, the Centre announced in the Union Budget that the Kasimedu harbour would get some facilities, but it is not clear what facilities will come up.

“At present, fish from Chennai is being sent to Kerala to be processed and then exported, which means we are losing out on income from exports. Further, the price that we get is quite low, compared with other fishing harbours. The harbour only has auction halls, open spaces to sell fish in retail and space to repair nets. In fact, going by international standards, sanitation is not up to the mark. We even lack toilets and drinking water. Unless these facilities are upgraded, we cannot export from here,” said Nanjil Ravi of the Akhila Indhiya Meenavar Sangam.

Price of catch

U. Arulanandam, president, Rameswaram Fishermen Association, said tuna, a major catch among those from deep sea, was being sold for as high as $1,000 a kg in Japan. “With every improvement in quality, the price of the catch will increase. Fish from here is sent to Vietnam where it is processed and sold for a higher price,” he said, adding that while the processing facilities were established, care must be taken to ensure that local needs were met. “Every fishing harbour has its unique catch. Uniform facilities would not be of much help,” he said.

To increase the income of fishermen, the Tamil Nadu government is trying to encourage deep sea fishing. Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said this would help build resources close to the coast, thereby benefiting artisanal fishermen.

“Already over 60 deep sea vessels have been built and handed over to the fishermen. There are two subsidy schemes for their purchase. For those in the Mandapam area, the subsidy amount is higher. The concept of mother ship, which was introduced in 2014, would help fishermen of deep sea vessels since it would process the catch in the sea and bring it to the coast. However, there have been no takers for this,” he explained. He also pointed out that his government had spent over ₹1,500 crore for improving infrastructure in the State in the last five years. “We currently rank number one in fish production in the country,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 4:14:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/fisheries-sector-needs-improvement/article34023929.ece

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