Fish meal industries' strike lands fishermen in trouble

Fish meal industries' strike lands fishermen in trouble

Labourers of a purse seine fishing boat make preparations to go on deep-sea fishing, at Old Port in Mangaluru on Monday. DH Photo / Govindraj Javali

The fishermen, who ventured into deep sea fishing, have incurred losses due to strike by fish meal industries from August 1 and inclement weather.

The fishermen, who returned with huge quantity of Rani fish (Pink Perch) and ‘Kappe Bondas’ (cuttlefish), have no buyers due to the strike by fishmeal industries. These varieties usually go to fishmeal industries and are not sold in open market due to poor patronage of customers.

As a result, the fishermen are apprehensive over getting good price for the catch when they return from deep-sea fishing. Fish meal industries are on strike over the Centre’s decision to collect goods and services tax (GST) from fish meal and related products. Prior to GST, fish meal industries were exempted from all taxes.

Purse Seine Boat Owners President Mohan Bengre told DH that the strike by fish meal industries and the inclement weather prevented the fishermen from venturing into deep-sea fishing and had caused huge loss.

The fishing season had begun on August 1 after the 61-day ban on fishing.

“Normally, we get huge quantities of Kappe Bondas and Rani fish during the initial days of fishing after the fishing holiday ends and the catch are sold to the fishmeal industries. It fetches good price depending on the catch. It is during this period fishermen make a tidy profit,” he said.

He said on an average Rani fish fetches Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg. Boats that had gone for fishing had returned with 1 tonne to 1.5 tonnes of Rani fish and Kappe Bondas. According to fishermen, a trawl boat filled with 5,000 litres of diesel ventures into deep sea fishing. The fish catch is commercially viable if it exceeds Rs 6 lakh.

About 50% of the boats had remained anchored at the Old Port. There are 450 to 500 deep-sea trawlers, of which 200 trawlers had gone for deep-sea fishing. There are 82 purse seine boats.

On Monday, a few of the purse seine boats had left for fishing. After August 21, all the purse seine boats will leave for fishing, Bengre added.

According to Trawl Boat Owners Association President Nithin Kumar, “We have extended moral support to the fish meal industries. But fishermen are incurring loss.The problem is not restricted to Mangaluru alone. All the fishermen in the coasts of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are facing problems”.

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