Poor catch after trawl ban; Bleak start for Kochi fishermen
By Toby Antony | Express News Service | Published: 03rd August 2017 08:43 AM |
KOCHI: The 45-day trawling ban ended two days ago, but the conspicuous absence of large trawling vessels was palpable at most harbours in the coastal belts of Ernakulam district on Wednesday. Disgruntled fishers attribute this bleak start to the considerable dip in pink parch (kilimeen) numbers this season.
The weather was propitious for a good catch. However, the expectations of hundreds of fishermen have been smothered as they now foresee it as portending an awful season ahead.
Around 500 boats from various parts of Ernakulam district touched waters on Tuesday and around 50 small-sized trawling boats have returned so far. Only five boats arrived with pink parch at the Munnambam harbour. “Surely, we are concerned,” said Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, the general secretary of the All Kerala Fishing Boat Operators Association.“Only small boats have returned. Usually, large vessels laden with ‘kilimeen’ arrive first. Maybe, the catch is poor, forcing them to remain at sea for longer.”
Fishermen still hope the situation will improve in the next few days. The crew of boats docked at Kalamukku harbour said boats from Kollam netted a good catch on Monday. The small boats are arriving with ‘karikadi’ shrimps. Though the price of ‘karikadi’ is high, fishermen said it will disappear from the Kerala coast in a couple of days. “We are pinnning our hopes on ‘kilimeen’ and cuttlefish (squid). But the two varieties cannot be netted in large quantities using trawling boats,” said Shaji, a wholesale fish trader in Vypeen.
The dinghy boats berthed at harbours with anchovies and mackerels. While pink parch is priced at Rs 50 per kg, cuttlefish will fetch over Rs 400 per kg. ‘Karikadi’ shrimp is mostly exported and it is priced at Rs 100 per kg at harbours. However, fishermen are pessimistic about the profit margin due to the intervention of middlemen. If prices come down, profit will also slip further in the coming days. “A majority of vessels arriving in harbours here supply fish to export companies,” said Abdul Nasar, a fish merchant at the Mattancherry harbour. “Once the boats start arriving with their catch, the wholesale price will go down, denting our profit margin. As far as the retail price is concerned, there won’t be any substantial variation in the price.”
With trawling ban lifted, the ice making units across the district have also begun operations. Raju, an ice factory owner in Vypeen, said around 3,000-5,000 blocks of ice are supplied to trawling boats daily.
“Our business depends on trawling boats. If the catch is low, the boats will not buy any ice block,” he said.
Marine Enforcement wing rescues crew
Kochi:The Marine Enforcement Wing on Wednesday rescued five crew members of a fishing boat stranded at sea due to engine failure. The vessel named Naseeb, with registration number KL 04 MM 959, from Ambalapuzha floated along for entire Tuesday night.
The boat’s wireless system was also not functioning and the crew could not communicate with the fisheries station and other fishing boats. The wireless system malfunction made it difficult for the authorities to trace the boat.“We started out on a rescue mission following information from other fishing boats. After a long search, the boat was spotted by Wednesday afternoon and was towed to the Vypeen fisheries station,” an officer said. Purushothaman, Viswan, Jayamohan, Ajeesh and Nazeer were the crew members of the boat owned by Ambalapuzha native Sulaiman. Marine Enforcement officers Pradeep and Bavijeesh, along with sea guards Rajeev and Vinu, conducted the rescue operation.