Fish drought sends alarming signals to fishermen in Udupi

Dist admn should take action against violators of norms, says a fisherman

The fishermen in Udupi are having tough time as the district is undergoing the brunt of the worst fish drought since couple of months.

The fishermen are returning with empty vessels from the sea. Apart from this, the scarcity has resulted in the sky-rocketing of fish prices. The most affected among the fisher folk are the purse-seine boat fishermen as they do not go deep sea and are incapable to go to the distance covering two harbours.

Malpe Fishermen Association President Heeriyanna Keediyur told Deccan Herald that there is a drastic decline in the fish catch since a couple of months. The drought in fish catch has destabilized the livelihood of the fishermen in the area.

The fish price has increased. Most of the fishermen are without work, as venturing into sea needs minimum investment. The present day situation will not help boats to return back due to steep rise in diesel prices, forget paying the labourers wages, he added.

‘Man made situation’

Meanwhile, Raghu Karkera, a fisherman, who owns a purse-seine boat along with three partners explained that it is highly impossible to make up the loss if the boats venture into the sea. ‘Living has become a burden now. The poor fishermen are sitting at home and counting days. 

Though returns from our profession is highly uncertain, the present bad situation is man made,” he points.  The greed of deep-sea trawlers to make quick money by catching fishes all the season as well as the traditional fishing has made us to see these worst days, he said.

A purse-seine boat requires 30 labourers and the fish drought have made all of us unemployed. The purse-seine boat owners are unable to pay the daily wages and sometimes will also become defaulters for failing to pay the loan that have taken to buy boats, he laments.

Deep-sea fishing

The fish drought, however has affected only one section of fishermen. The deep-sea trawlers are having big catches as the powerful engine is capable to go for deep-sea fishing from Malpe to Mumbai. The deep sea trawlers with more than 600 HP engine capacity can catch all sorts of fishes from large items like, shark, salmon, whale shark, lobster, squid to smaller fishes like  guppy, boafish, goldfish and clownfish. 

The deep trawlers fishermen prefer huge sized fishes that fetch them good price. The remains of small fishes were thrown back to the sea as waste.

The huge net used by deep-sea trawlers, once spread across the sea, will take away all sized fishes.  However, the purse-seine boats do fishing in the edge where there is no availability of big fishes.

Secondly, it is learnt that the fishing during rainy season has massively affected the fish breed. The fishermen from neighboring states venture in the sea in Karnataka and use gillnet to catch fishes. These gillnets ruin the smallest of the smallest fishes including fish eggs.

Fisherman Raju Suvarna adds that the umpteen number of boats indulged in fishing was also one reason for the decline of fishes. Currently, there are more than 2,000 boats comprising all forms and sizes into fishing.  

“The district administration should not bow to the powerful lobby, but should think in terms of poor fishermen who work day and night to fetch two square meals a day. It should come out with stringent actions against those who violate norms,” he urged.

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