North Andhra fishermen in troubled waters

Majority of mechanised boats are lying idle at the Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour.— Photo: C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam

Majority of mechanised boats are lying idle at the Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour.— Photo: C.V. SubrahmanyamC.V.Subrahmanyam  

It is an undeclared fishing holiday for North Andhra fishermen following fast depletion in catch and exorbitant increase in operation cost.

Of 700 mechanised boats, which are operated from Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour, only 20 to 30% are going on voyage mostly towards northern side to Gopalpur and Puri of Odisha. Faced with an uncertain future, some of the fishermen have even decided to resort to distress sale of their boats.

Korada Satyanarayana, a boat owner, told The Hindu that the situation had come to such a pass that even he tried to sell his boat in Kakinada after finding no taker in the city but he was shocked to find out that the situation was also the same there.

“There are no takers even though we are ready to sell the boats at almost half of its original cost,” he bemoaned. This typifies the situation prevailing in the fishing sector. “We have sent SoS to the authorities but none is coming to our rescue,” pointed out Dolphin Boat Operators’ Welfare Association president Ch. Satyanarayana Murthy. “The fall in catch started for the past four to five years. Now we are not getting enough to meet our fuel and ration cost,” he pointed out.

Industrial effluents

Fishermen say indiscriminate release of industrial effluents into the sea is mainly responsible for fall in catch. “Fish-kill due to chemical effluents is a common spectacle in Pudimadaka, Parawada, Pydibhimavaram and Nakkapalli areas,” said Arjili Dasu, executive secretary of the District Fishermen Youth Welfare Association.

For going on a 15/16-day voyage, a mechanised boat owner has to spend nearly Rs. 2 lakh on diesel and ice and Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 towards ration for the crew. On an average, each boat owner is incurring a loss of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000 per voyage ever since new fishing season started on June 15 after the end of 60-day annual fishing ban. Fishermen, whom The Hindu contacted, said they were ready to sell boats with a value of Rs. 25 lakh at Rs. 10 to 15 lakh due to deteriorating situation and heavy burden on them in repayment of private and institutional loans taken for purchasing the boats.

Fishermen are upset that they are not getting high-value fish like shrimp, Vanjiram and Pomfret as per their expectation. The export price of ‘pink brown shrimp’ has also come down from last year’s Rs. 450 to Rs. 320-330 per kg. Tiger and white shrimp has turned into a rare catch. “Mostly we are getting miscellaneous fish like Mackerel and Gulivindala, which do not fetch much to us,” said Korada Satyanarayana, another boat owner.

Boat owners also point out that diesel subsidy being offered to them by the government has not been revised in proportionate to the rise in the prices of fuel. They are given Rs. 3.03 when per litre cost was Rs. 34. Now diesel price is jacked up to Rs. 65.

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